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Parked Cars Heat Up Rapidly, Often to Deadly Temperatures

Dog In Car

Monday marked the official beginning of summer, bringing with it sweltering heat in the Ozarks. Along with the excessive heat come the many dangers associated with it, especially when it comes to automobiles. Inside of a parked car the temperature can quickly rise to life-threatening levels. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has this report.

As recent as just last week, twin toddlers in Southeast Missouri were found dead inside of a parked car as a result of the heat. According to the Associated Press, the children had been playing in the car while the outside temperature was between 80 and 90 degrees. This kind of heat related death is not uncommon. Even when outside temperatures are in the low 70’s, temperatures inside a car quickly become deadly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that a car’s interior temperature can rise at least 20 degrees in less than 10 minutes on a hot day. The temperature inside a parked car can soar to around 125 degrees. Kit Wagar, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, says that it is never safe to leave children or pets in any car during the summer months.

"Small children, and this applies to animals as well, should never be left in a car during hot weather. Even if the windows are cracked or left down, the interior of the car can become super heated in a very brief amount of time. Particularly if left in the sun." Wagar said.

Wagar says that one of the reasons that children are more sensitive to heat is that they are smaller and can dehydrate in a much shorter amount of time. He also says that children have to rely on adults to make good decisions for them and that even playing in or around a parked car is very dangerous. Children may simply fall asleep and get trapped inside, he said.

"One of the first effects on small children is that they tend to fall asleep. So then even if they're old enough to know how to get out, they'll fall asleep and not get out. Young children should never be left alone in (or around) a car." said Wagar.

Such excessive temperatures are also deadly when it comes to animals left inside of a car. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs and cats do not perspire as humans do, making them unable to cool their bodies efficiently. Brain damage or even death can occur if pets are left in a hot car for even a few minutes.You can find links to more information below.For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.

Click here for the Centers for Disease and Prevention's Website

Click here for The Department of Health and Senior Service's Website

Click here for the Humane Society of the United States Website