Experts warn against leaving kids, pets in hot cars as summer heat kicks up

The National Safety Council estimates 38 children under the age of 15 die every year in hot cars.
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The summer heat is once again leading law enforcement and other experts to warn against children and pets being left in hot cars.

So far this year, two children nationwide have died after being left in hot cars, including a five-month-old in Iredell County, North Carolina. Police say the baby was left in a hot car for hours.

It was only about 70-degrees in Iredell County when that happened, according to the National Safety Council. According to data from Colorado State University, at that temperature, a closed car can jump nearly 20-degrees in just ten minutes.

“Your children are your precious cargo,” said Sgt. Vincent Waddell with the Jacksonville Police Department. “Never leave a kid or a pet alone inside your car, especially with it being hot outside. We definitely don’t want heatstroke or anything like that.”

An average of 38 children under the age of 15 die every year because of hot cars, according to the National Safety Council.

Law enforcement says you should leave pets at home if you are going somewhere where they’re not allowed, or to bring a friend along to watch your child or pet in the car while you’re there. But police say leaving your car running with a child or pet inside opens you up to potential theft.

“It doesn’t take much in the way of solar radiation to come into a car to really heat up the temperatures on the inside,” said WITN Meteorologist Phillip Williams. “Even on a cloudier day, you still get enough radiation to heat up the temperatures inside a closed car.”

Experts also recommend keeping keys or key fobs away from children so they don’t get ahold of them and try and play in a vehicle. Police also say you should leave items in the backseat that you would never leave the car without, like a cell phone, backpack or even taking off your left shoe. They say that can prevent the fairly-common trend of drivers becoming distracted and forgetting your child or pet was in the car, to begin with.

“If you see a kid in there in distress, make sure you act. Call 911 immediately,” said Waddell. “We will get an officer out there so that way we can help them out.”

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