As Southern California braces for a heat wave, weather officials are busy reminding the public that children — and pets — should never be left in hot cars.
About 38 kids die each year by being left in a vehicle, the L.A. City Emergency Management Department reported in a tweet. Of those, 88% are under the age of 3 and 54% were forgotten by a caregiver.
Nationwide in 2020, 24 toddlers died in hot cars and so far in 2021 there have been 2 deaths reported due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke, according to NoHeatStroke.org.
Along with infants and children, older adults and pets also should never be left alone in hot cars because the temperature can rapidly increase in a matter of minutes, even with the air conditioning on.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that a child’s body temperature can rise 3 to 5 times higher faster than adults, and on an 80-degree day temperatures inside a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service reports that animals can die of heatstroke within 15 minutes, and leaving a window cracked does little to help the dangerous temperatures inside a hot car.
Officials advise do the following before leaving a car:
- Never leave a child in a parked car, even with the windows down and the air conditioning on
- Always look in the front and back of the car before locking a car and walking away
- Never let children play in unattended vehicles
- Put an item like a purse or cell phone next to the child’s seat so you always check before leaving the car
- If a child is missing, check all vehicles and trunks immediately
If you see a baby or a child left unattended in a hot car, you are urged to dial 911 immediately.