Recently, the news headlines have been full of reports of excessive high temperatures across the western portion of the Unites States. Although we have not experienced the triple digit temperatures that some areas of the country have experienced, we have seen some of the hottest temperatures of the year. With it only being mid-July, there are many more hot days to come before we can expect some relief.
During this time of year, we unfortunately hear of tragic instances where a child was left in a hot car and has perished in the extreme heat. This is often followed by criminal charges of neglect for the party responsible for the care of the child. This same tragic scenario plays out even more frequently with pets left in hot vehicles. Once again, the party responsible for the care of these animals could be held criminally liable if the animal dies.
Summer months can be dangerous for children and pets left alone in a vehicle, even for short periods of time. Parents, caregivers, and pet owners should never leave a child or pet alone in a vehicle. Vehicles parked in the shade or with open, cracked, or tinted windows are not exempt from the dangers. Even on an overcast day, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly rise causing the child or pet to suffer heatstroke or possible death.
The following are just a few tips to consider when traveling with small children or pets, whether on a long trip or just running errands locally:
- Never leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle, even for a minute.
- Create reminders and habits that give you a safety net. For example: leave an item you need at your next stop in the back seat, so you don’t forget about a child or pet.
- Many of you are just getting back to driving to work as COVID restrictions are lifted. Make the safety of your young passengers and four-legged friends a priority as they travel.
- If you see an unattended child or pet in a vehicle, call 911 and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.
- Always lock your car — even in your garage or driveway — so young kids can’t climb into the vehicle. If your child goes missing, check your vehicle first, including the trunk.
- Discuss hot car safety with everyone who drives your child, including partners, grandparents, and babysitters.
- Don’t drive distracted. More than half of heatstroke deaths occurred when a distracted caregiver forgot a quiet child was in the vehicle.
- Plan your errands in ways that do not require you to leave your child or pet in the car alone. Use drive thru windows at restaurants, banks, and dry cleaners. Pay for your gas with a debit or credit card at the pump instead of going inside to conduct your business.
- If you can’t take your pet inside with you to your destination, leave your pet at home.
Remember that children’s bodies absorb heat at rates three to five times faster than adults do because they are not fully developed. In addition, dogs do not have sweat glands all over their bodies as we do, so they have just two ways to cool off – by panting and by releasing heat through their paws.
Hot temperatures are something that we have to deal with this time of year. Take a few minutes to ensure that the passengers in your vehicle that cannot take care of themselves, small children and pets, are properly cared for and not left behind in a hot car even for just a few minutes. It could be the difference between life and death. If you have any questions about child or pet safety in hot weather, please give us a call here at the Sheriff’s Office.