Summer Safety: Signs of heat exhaustion and preventing hot car deaths

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 7:17 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As hot temperatures continue to hold a firm grip on our region, it’s also important to remember how hot your car can get.

According to the National Safety Council, an average of 38 children die in hot cars each year.

WITN’s Phillip Williams says temperatures inside a vehicle can reach up to 120 degrees within five minutes on a summer day.

“Sunlight shines on to darker surfaces they absorb heat more,” Williams said. “So for, dark surfaces like a car seat or a dashboard can get extremely hot. What you can do, is put your hand on that, if you can leave it there for five seconds and its comfortable then its okay for people to be on that car seat. If its not, then its too hot for anyone to be on it or pets to be on it.”

Speaking of Toddlers and pets, what should you do if you see them left in a hot car?

Joe Breece, the supervisor of Animal Protective Services for Greenville Police recommends immediately calling 9-1-1 before you break a window. He says the operator will guide you on what to do in a particular situation. He does add that police are the only ones who can legally smash a window.

“If an animal is in distress they [police] can break a window out,” Breece said. “They’re covered as far as legality, but the ordinary citizen isn’t covered under that, unfortunately.”

Whether you’re inside a car or outside, ECU Health doctors say it’s important to also know the signs of heat stroke and exhaustion.

“Heat exhaustion is really when someone is feeling faint, they may be vomiting, excessive sweating and general muscle weakness,” Breece said. “The symptoms of heat stroke is confusion, the person may become unconsciousness, dizziness again and it is when the body reaches temperatures over 103 degrees.”

There hasn’t been a hot car case in Eastern Carolina this year. The most recent case was in May 2017.

Greenville Police rescued a child that was locked inside of a car when the temperature was 88 degrees outside and 115 degrees inside the vehicle.

The mother was charged with misdemeanor child abuse.

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