How hot car temperatures affect children, pets

Health

According to the National Safety Council, 2018 was the deadliest year on record for hot car deaths.

With June known as the hottest month of the year, TxDOT El Paso and Zarges Animal Clinic are warning the community of the dangers car heat poses on children and pets.

In 2018, 51 children died last year of pediatric vehicular heatstroke, topping the single year high of 49 set in 2010.

“We have to remember that a child’s body heats up 5 times faster than our body so they’re going to get hot a lot faster,” said Monica O’Kane of TxDOT El Paso.

TxDOT is now promoting a new lanyard specifically made for parents to wear when they have a child in a car seat. It clips onto the car seat once you have removed the child from the car.

However, it’s not just kids at risk, but also pets, who are far more likely to be left inside a parked car.

Zarges Animal Clinic is warning El Pasoans that an animal’s sensitivity to heat can end deadly.

“They do not have abilities such as humans, where they have sweat glands. they are unable to dissipate some of that heat through sweating, so our major concern is that vehicles get extremely hot,” Says Ricardo Renteria of the clinic.

KTSM put the extreme car heat to the test by placing a bottle of ice, plate of gummy bears, and a temperature gauge in the car for 20 minutes.

Within 15 minutes, the car reached 144 degrees inside, melting the gummy bears and turning the ice into water.

TxDOT says this is just one way of showing the dangers heat can bring to the organs of children and animals.

When a child’s body temperature reaches 103 degrees, their organs begin to shut down. When a dog’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees, they can suffer from unstoppable heat seizures that lead to death.

Here are some tips TxDOT and Zarges Animal Clinic say to follow:

  • Do not leave pets or people (sleeping babies, children, elderly) in a vehicle- even with windows “cracked”
  • Place purses or wallets in the backseat as a reminder that your child is in the car
  • Do not leave pets in the bed of a pickup as surface temperatures can rise quickly
  • Do not let breezes, windy weather or cloudy days fool you: the lack of circulation inside an enclosed vehicle on a warm day can be deadly
  • Avoid overexertion of dogs such as walking/jogging them during the heat of the day
  • Call 911 if you see a person or pet left unattended in an enclosed vehicle
  • Seek immediate medical attention for people who succumbed to the heat

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