Protect Kids and Pets from Heatstrokes this Summer
As summer heats up, there’ll be many chances to take your kids and pets for car rides. When you do, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals (ASPCA) caution you to ensure that your child or pet is with you whenever you leave the car.
According to NHTSA, in 2018, 52 children died of heatstrokes who were left in hot cars across the U.S. In almost no time temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels, which creates a dangerous situation for children who are in a car unsupervised. Parents and caregivers are the first line of defense for preventing these tragedies—but everyone in the community has a role to play. For Parents and Caregivers:
NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
MAKE it a habit to look in the back seat EVERY time you exit the car.
ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach.
If you are a bystander and see a child in a hot vehicle:
Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.
If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.
If the child is not responsive or appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window. Many states have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency.
The ASPCA is also intensely working to send its own hot-car message: “Overheating kills! Don’t put your pets in danger.” ASPCA advises that it’s best to leave your pets at home in hot weather rather than risk having them suffer a heat stroke from being left in a hot car. Some important facts:
Vehicles heat up quickly – according to NHTSA, even with a window rolled down two inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s° Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes.
Shade offers little protection on a hot day and moves with the sun. Pets most at risk for hyperthermia (overheating) are young animals, elderly animals, overweight animals, and those with short muzzles, or thick or dark-colored coats.
Many states and local governments have laws that prohibit leaving an animal unattended in a motor vehicle under dangerous conditions, which includes hot days. Under these laws, police, animal control agents, peace officers, and others may be authorized to enter by whatever means necessary to remove the animal. You could have your car damaged, be charged with a crime, and fined or imprisoned. If your dog is overcome by heat, ASPCA recommends that you bring down the body temperature by soaking the animal in cool (notice) water, making sure the water does not get into the mouth or nose of an unconscious animal, and seeking immediate veterinary care.