As temperatures soar, AAA warns vehicle owners about heatstroke dangers

BELLEVUE, Wash. — With temperatures soaring across Washington and North Idaho, AAA reminds drivers not to leave children or pets in a vehicle, even for a short amount of time. Because children’s body temperatures rise three to five times faster than adults, leaving them in a car — even when parked in the shade with windows open — creates a dangerous risk for heatstroke.

The temperature inside a vehicle can jump 20 degrees in just ten minutes. On a seemingly mild 70-degree day, a car’s internal temperature can reach 89 degrees in that amount of time; jump up to 104 degrees within 30 minutes.

“Simply put, there is no there is no safe amount of time to leave a child or a pet alone in a car during the warm weather.” said Kelly Just, AAA Washington Traffic Safety Manager.

In 2019, 53 children died after being left or trapped in a vehicle. Surprisingly, sheer forgetfulness is one of the major causes of these deaths. A rushed or distracted caregiver can easily forget about a quiet child, especially on days that differ from a usual routine.

Tips parents and caregivers can use to prevent these tragedies

  • Create reminders and habits to prevent you from leaving a loved one behind. For example: leave an item in the back seat, such as a purse or briefcase — something you will need at your next stop. A forgotten child will be spotted when you retrieve the item.
  • Request to be contacted immediately when a child who is expected at school, daycare or other activity does not arrive.
  • Discuss the issue of hot-car safety with everyone who drives your child, including partners, grandparents and babysitters.
  • Lock your car at all times – even in your garage or drive way – so young kids can’t climb into the vehicle without your knowledge.

When you do see an unattended child in a vehicle, take action; call 911 and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.

Given their small bodies, hot cars can be deadly for animals. If you cannot bring your pet into a store or restaurant with you, the best protection you can provide is to leave them at home.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) created an online tool to demonstrate how quickly the temperature inside a car increases. Enter your location and watch the numbers rise.