Even though school has started, the heat of summer is still hanging on. It is still important to remember that vehicles can get up to very high temperatures in the hot sun. Though there are no agencies monitoring the statistics for pets, it is estimated that hundreds of pets die each year from heat stroke and exhaustion due to being left in a hot car unattended. The temperature inside a vehicle can raise up to 20 degrees inside of 20 minutes. The longer the car sits, the higher the temperature can soar. Even on a partly cloudy day with an outside temperature of 70 degrees the inside of a car can reach over 110 degrees in as little as 60 minutes. A study done by the Department of Geosciences from San Francisco State University also showed that cracking the window had very little effect on the inside temperatures.
Unfortunately, pets are not the only ones at risk. Children are often the victims of heat stroke from being left in a car unattended. According to http://noheatstroke.org (a website powered by the Department of Meteorology and Climate Sciences from San Jose State University), as of August 23, 2017, 35 kids have died in 2017 so far from the effects of being left in a hot car too long. This is including the baby that died in Laramie, Wyoming on July 27 of this year. These deaths could have been prevented! Go to www.safercar.gov/parents for tips on avoiding these accidents.
What do you do if you see a child or pet in a car unattended?
- Evaluate the situation – is the car running with the air conditioner on? Does the animal or child look distressed? Are they conscious?
- Call 911 – Notify the authorities immediately. Ask them what they recommend that you do. Don’t panic and follow their instructions.
- Have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them. Do not leave the scene!
- Remove the child or animal from the car. Do this with caution. Keep in mind that if you break into the car that you may be held responsible for damage to the vehicle and could even face prison time in states without “Good Samaritan” laws. Only about half of the states in the US have such laws and many only apply to a human in danger, not an animal. Wyoming does not currently have a “Good Samaritan” law.
- Spray the child or pet with cool water (not cold) and wait for the authorities to arrive.
The message here? DO NOT leave pets or children in cars unattended. They are best left at home or with a sitter if they cannot go inside with you to wherever you are going.