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The Danger of Hot Cars

As spring gives way to summer, rising temperatures herald the simple joys of warm weather barbecues, trips to the beach, and lazy days by the pool. But beware: warmer weather spells serious danger for children and pets left in vehicles unattended. Leaving a child or pet in the car for even a short amount of time can be deadly. Follow the tips below to avoid unintentionally endangering your loved ones.

Before Leaving Home

  • Know where you are going. Many stores do not allow pets other than service dogs inside. If you do not know the policy at your destination(s) and your pets are not service animals, leave them at home to avoid any risk of having to leave them in the car.
  • Make a checklist of things to accomplish on your trip out, and include a reminder on the list to take your child out of the car.
  • Place your purse or wallet by the child’s car seat to help yourself remember that your child is on board, even if the car seat is out of sight, or the child is asleep. Putting the diaper bag in the passenger seat may also help serve as a visual reminder.

In the Parking Lot

  • Never leave your child in the car. Store visits often last longer than anticipated, and even the briefest amount of time can be deadly for a child or pet. Even on a mild day with the car windows cracked, temperatures inside a sitting car can quickly soar high enough to cause dehydration, heat stroke, and even death.
  • Check the front and back of your vehicle before you leave to reduce the risk of forgetting a child or pet.
  • Do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 if you see an unattended child or pet in a hot car, even if there are no signs of distress. Oftentimes victims of heat stroke do not struggle or cry out, due to sluggishness and confusion that renders them unaware of their situation. Get the child or pet out of the car as quickly as possible. First aid can be administered while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.

Other Tips

  • Keep car keys in a safe place out of the reach of children, and do not let children play in or around the car. This reduces the risk of a child getting locked inside by accident.
  • Keep plenty of fresh water in your vehicle, along with a bowl for your pet, to keep passengers well-hydrated and prevent hyperthermia in the event of an air conditioning failure or other unexpected car trouble.

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