Look Before You Lock

Dangers of Leaving Children/Pets in Vehicles

A child or pet’s death is always a tragic event, especially when it was preventable. Every summer in Arizona, there are a few heartbreaking cases where children suffer the heat of a locked vehicle. While not every case ends in tragedy, the stakes are too high to risk leaving a child in a car unattended. Just last week, a child was discovered in a locked car in a Surprise parking lot (ABC 15). After only 20 minutes, the temperature inside the vehicle was 108 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly 20 degrees over the normal core temperature for humans (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Fortunately, emergency officials were able to rescue the child, but this case is just one of many examples of how dangerous it can be to leave a child or pet in the car for even just a few minutes.

Children simply cannot tolerate temperatures as well as adults. According to the NHTSA’s “Look Before You Lock Campaign,” children can experience heat stroke symptoms when their internal temperature reaches only 104 degrees. If their core temperature reaches about 107 degrees, it can be fatal! The same can be said for dogs.

How does heat stress happen in a vehicle?

Even if the windows are cracked open, windows still absorb solar heat. As solar heat penetrates through a window, it becomes reflective heat. Due to the small size of the vehicle interior and the plastic material of the seats and panels, the heat trapped inside becomes convectional heat much like the heat generated inside of an oven. On extremely hot days, cracked windows are definitely not enough to circulate the hot air, and air conditioners struggle to keep the cabin air cool for occupants, especially when a vehicle is idling.

According to a study from Jan Null at San Jose State University, vehicle interior temperatures can rise more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit in just one hour. If outdoor temperatures are about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, vehicle interiors can be well over 120 degrees Fahrenheit! Here in the valley, our outdoor temperatures reach well into the triple digits, so trapped solar heat is well beyond the deadly threshold for children and dogs left behind in vehicles, even for just mere minutes.

How to Fight on Behalf of Heat Stress Victims

Little ones and dogs cannot call for help like adults, but they can give off signals of distress. These tips may save a life.

  • Listen: Be aware of other vehicles in the parking lot and listen for barking or crying
  • Make a Call: If you find either a pet or a child in a locked vehicle with no driver in sight, immediately contact local emergency officials and ask an employee of the business to make an announcement for the car’s owner to return to their vehicle and release the occupants
  • Rescue Relief: Get them out of the hot vehicle as quickly as possible
  • Blast Awareness: Use hashtag #LookBeforeYouLock on social media to spread awareness about heat stress victims and warn others of the dangers

Take a look at kidsandcars.org for dangers, statistics and other great information for preventing similar incidents.

Premier Coach Works is based in the West Valley in Arizona. We know triple digits are physically dangerous and fatal. As an auto collision body shop, we want to spread awareness of #LookBeforeYouLock and support organizations doing studies and assisting families with losses of their loved ones. If you would like to learn more information about our auto body repair services, visit our website or call 623.935.6678.