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Children, pets and hot cars: a dangerous combination

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 9:06 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Scorching temperatures and parked cars make dangerous conditions for anyone inside.

“It [the car] can start heating up immediately as soon as it’s in the sun. If a 2-year-old is in the car longer than two hours, they can die,” said Trooper Shane Goodall, public information officer with Kentucky State Police.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2021 alone, 11 children lost their lives in hot cars. Children’s bodies heat up faster than adults in hot temperatures, according to NHTSA.

As interior car temperatures can hit triple digits in just minutes, Kentucky State Police stress the importance of remembering to look before you lock.

“It’s very surprising how hot it can get inside. I don’t think people realize if they were driving their car with the air conditioner not running, just in five minutes, it heats up quickly. I think it proves that we just pulled into the parking lot, and it [the car windshield temperature] reads 138 degrees,” Trooper Goodall said.

He and another trooper tested how long they could sit in a locked vehicle with no air conditioning in the hot sun.

Within the first three minutes, sweat rolled down both men’s foreheads, and their breathing became heavy. Before the 10-minute exercise was up, the thermometer maxed out at 120 degrees.

“It feels like winter,” Goodall said as he stepped out of the vehicle. “It’s miserable to be in a vehicle for that long. I couldn’t imagine leaving a child in a car locked for an hour at that point.”

Kentucky State Police encourage everyone to do a double take before getting out of their vehicle, as it could save a life. Even if you don’t have children, locking your car can prevent neighborhood kids from getting in while playing hide-and-seek and accidentally locking themselves in.

If you spot a child or pet locked in a hot car, you’re advised to call 911 and stay with the vehicle until first responders arrive.

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