Time to be ever vigilant regarding children and pets in vehicles

By Jon Johnson


GRAHAM COUNTY – With temperatures at near record highs, the time is now to be ever more vigilant in making sure to never leave children or pets in vehicles.

On average, 37 children die each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles. Children and pets are more susceptible to the heat.

According to San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences, the temperature in a car can increase up to 20 degrees in 10 minutes during daytime hours and more than 40 degrees in an hour. Another study by the Texas A&M Medical Science Center lists that cracking a window has no effect on the rate of the rising temperature or a final temperature. That is due, in part to the greenhouse effect of short radiation from the sun entering the car and being turned into long radiation and heat, which remains trapped in the car.

That means even in 72-degree weather with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 112 degrees, and vehicles parked in 100-degree weather (a common occurrence for most of Arizona this time of year) can see an interior increase to 120 degrees in just 10 minutes and can reach an easily fatal 140 degrees.

Graphic Courtesy Jan Null, Certified Consulting Meteorologist Golden Gate Weather Services: A test on 16 different vehicles in 2002 showed how quickly a car’s interior temperature can increase. The test was performed when the outside ambient temperatures were between 72 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 2015, Arizona Director of Child Safety Greg McKay performed a demonstration in Phoenix in May when the temperature outside was less than 90 degrees. McKay had a car that had its air conditioner on pull into a parking spot and then had the vehicle turned off. The temperature in the car rose from 86 degrees to 108 degrees in just 10 minutes and continued up to 124 degrees in only 25 minutes.

Below is a promotional video from Kids and Cars about the fatal distraction of leaving children in a vehicle.

Safety tips to avoid children vehicular heatstroke

• Never leave children alone in or around vehicles

• Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase on the floorboard in the back seat underneath the child’s car seat.

• Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind.

• Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat as a visual reminder that a child is in the back seat.

• Make arrangements with your child’s daycare center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be in attendance.

• Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway.

• Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.

• When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.

• If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If the child is hot or seems sick, get him or her out as quickly as possible and call 911.

• Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.

• Use drive-through services when available.

• Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the gas station.

Source: kidsandcars.org.