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Don’t Leave a Child or Pet in a Parked Car

Getting Trapped in a Parked Car in the Summer Can Be Deadly

As summer heats up, remember that leaving a child inside a car — even for a few minutes — can lead to heatstroke, or worse.

A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s, so even parking in the shade with windows open creates a dangerous risk for anyone left inside.

Mild weather can be deceiving, too. On a 70-degree day, a car’s internal temperature can reach 89 degrees in just 10 minutes and 104 degrees in 30 minutes. Heatstroke begins when a body’s core temperature reaches about 104 degrees and is deadly at 107 degrees.

In 2019, 52 children died in the U.S. after being left or trapped in a vehicle. Sheer forgetfulness was one of the major causes. A rushed or distracted caregiver can easily forget about a quiet child, especially on days that differ from a usual routine.

Here’s how you can keep your child safe:

  • Put something in the back seat that will be needed at the next stop, such as a purse or briefcase, to remind you that a child is on board.
  • Request to be contacted immediately when your child does not arrive at school, day care or other activity.
  • Discuss hot-car safety with everyone who drives your child, including partners, grandparents and babysitters.
  • It is also important to keep vehicles locked at all times, even when parked in a garage or driveway, so young kids cannot climb in and become trapped.
  • And when you see an unattended child in a vehicle, take action. Call 911 and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.

Hot cars can be deadly for animals, too. If you cannot bring your pet into a store or restaurant with you, the best protection is to leave them at home.

Want to find out how hot your car will be within 30 minutes based on the current temperature? Visit nhtsa.gov/campaign/heatstroke.

Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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