Summertime is heating up, with high temps beginning to rise after the Summer Solstice in July.
According to Weather.com, early to mid-August tend to be the hottest time for a swath of the Southern United States -- from central and eastern Texas into the Ozarks, Lower Mississippi, and Tennessee valleys. Parts of the West Coast won't typically hit their warmest temps until September when hot, dry winds -- known as Santa Anas in Southern California and Diablo Winds in the Bay Area -- cross the deserts to the coast and offshore.
No matter where you live, this is the time of year to be especially vigilant about the temps in your car, and how it affects your chidren and animal passengers. Tragically, this is typically the time of year that most children and animals die of heatstroke after being left in hot cars. It can be an easy mistake to make...you think you're just running in for a minute, then get distracted and forget you've left somebody behind. Or frazzled parents somehow change a routine and forget that they haven't dropped their child at one of the regular stops along the way.
On average, 37 children die each year from heat-related deaths after being left or becoming trapped inside vehicles. Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car -- and the end result can be terrible injury or even death. And nobody is tracking the number of pet lives lost for this tragic mistake.
Vehicular heatstroke tragedies change the lives of parents, families, and communities forever. Don't let a summertime heatstroke tragedy happen to you. This month, AskPatty teams with KidsAndCars.org, SafeKids.org, and HumaneSociety.org to share the following tips to help prevent these useless deaths.
Leaving a child or animal unattended in a vehicle can lead to heatstroke and can kill in just minutes. It happens quickly: it can take only ten minutes to raise a car's temperature by more than 20 degrees. Even on a cloudy day, and even at an outside temperature of just 60 degrees, the temperature inside your car can reach 110 degrees; imagine how quickly it can happen on a hot summer day. That’s why it’s so important to never leave your child or pet alone in a car, not even for a minute.
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2OdKow7IAuw?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. According to SafeKids.org, children are at great risk for heatstroke because a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When the internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees, children’s organs start to shut down. And when it reaches 107 degrees, the child can die. On average, a child dies every eight days from heatstroke in a vehicle. And a dog can die in a hot car in as little as ten minutes.
Never leave your child or pet alone in a car, not even for a minute.
Andm because a vacant car can look like a playground, make sure to keep your car is always locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own, and be sure to teach kids that trunks are for transporting cargo and are not safe places to play.
Heat is not the only concern; humidity can also severely affect pets. "It's important to remember that it's not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet," says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. "Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly."
Put something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse, or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
Today's electronic devices make it easy for you to create a calendar reminder to make sure you dropped your child off at daycare. And as a backup, ask your babysitter or childcare provider to call you if your child hasn't arrived on time.
Another suggestion is to keep a stuffed animal in your child's safety seat, and move it to the front seat after you strap your child (or pet) in -- it will be a visual reminder that you have a passenger in the back seat.
The 2017 GMC Acadia midsize sport utility vehicle is helping to address this issue with the Rear Seat Reminder, an industry-first feature designed to remind drivers to check the back seat when they exit their vehicle under certain circumstances. Learn more about how this feature works, here at AskPatty.
KidsAndCars.org reminds everybody if you see a child or pet alone in a car, don't wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return: immediately call 911.
Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations.
One call could save a life.
The hot metal can burn a dog's paws, the sun and flying debris can hurt the dog, the dog can accidentally be thrown out of the truck if the brakes are suddenly applied, and the dog can jump out if scared or upon seeing something interesting to chase. Instead, use a crate to create a safer space for your dog if you can't fit the dog inside the truck cab -- and make sure to include lots of fresh water.
Extreme temperature and humidity can cause heatstroke.
In children, some signs of heatstroke are red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; strong, rapid pulse or slow, weak pulse; and nausea, confusion or strange behavior.
In pets, some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.
According to the Humane Society: "Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat."
"If you see a child alone in a car, don’t worry about getting involved in someone else’s business -- protecting children is everyone’s business; besides, 'Good Samaritan' laws offer legal protection for those who offer assistance in an emergency."
For a Child:
If the child is not responsive, immediately get the child out of the car and spray him or her with cool water (not an ice bath).
If the child is responsive, stay with the child until help arrives and have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.
For A Pet:
Move the pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area and apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Give the pet drink small amounts of cool water or let her lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.