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Are the Number of Hot Car Deaths Increasing?


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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July 2021 was the hottest month in the last 142 years. As global temperatures increase, it becomes more and more dangerous to leave young children and pets in vehicles.

One horrifying case includes Perez-Domingo, who was paid 40 dollars a week to drive two-year-old Joselyn Mendez to daycare. Perez-Domino buckled Joselyn into the car before locking it and returning to her home, forgetting to drive the girl to daycare. Joselyn was in the car from 8 A.M. to 3:15 P.M. when she was found unconscious in the vehicle.

After Perez-Domingo drove Joselyn back home, the mother called the police. The carer is being charged with several infractions, including driving without a license and not giving the little girl a car seat.

Though this is a tragedy born of neglectful care, this example shows how dangerous hot cars can be. In 2019, 53 children died from overheating in a vehicle. That number dropped to 25 in 2020, likely because people were staying home and not traveling as often. As COVID-19 restrictions continue to be lifted, people are desperate to travel to hot locations for vacation, these numbers may return to their previous incline.

“It is horrible to lose a child for any reason,” says Lawrence Eisenberg, founder of Law Offices of Eisenberg & Associates. “By spreading awareness, we can reduce the number of families suffering from this tragedy.”

To better understand how to protect yourself and others, here are the dangers a hot car possesses and what to do when you see a young child or pet locked in a hot car.

The Dangers of a Hot Car

The temperature of the vehicle’s interior depends on the temperature outside and the color of the interior. When it is 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside, a car can heat up to 90 degrees within ten minutes. After an hour, the vehicle’s interior can be up to 112 degrees.

Cars will get to hotter temperatures as the temperature outside increases. At 80 degrees Fahrenheit, a car’s interior can reach 100 degrees in ten minutes or 123 degrees within the hour. Once the outdoor temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the interior can reach 109 degrees in ten minutes or 133 in one hour.

Alongside outdoor temperature, the color of the interior can also affect temperatures. Lighter colored cars reflect sunlight, leading to cooler interiors, while darker cars absorb heat and have hotter interiors. A light-colored can be 20-30 degrees cooler than a dark-colored car.”As a result, a light-colored can be 20-30 degrees cooler than a dark-colored car.

These conditions are hazardous for children, whose bodies heat up three to five times father than an adult’s body. At 104 degrees Fahrenheit, major organs shut down. At 107 degrees, death is likely. However, heatstroke is not limited to 100-degree temperatures; heatstroke can occur in as cool as 57 degrees Fahrenheit while sitting in a car. However, heatstroke is not limited to 100-degree temperatures; heatstroke can occur in vehicles measuring only 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

With these dangers in mind, here is an understanding of what to do if you find yourself in this situation.

What to Do

Car owners should not leave young children or pets in vehicles for prolonged periods. Against popular belief, cracking a window or turning on air conditioning will not help once the car is turned off. Instead, plan to take your child or pet with you into the location you drove to.

If you pass by a car where a child or pet has been left inside, first check for responsiveness. If the inhabitant seems okay, try to find the parents. If you cannot find the parents, call local emergency services.

If the inhabitant is unresponsive or in distress, try to remove them from the car. This includes breaking the car window, as many states have Good Samaritan laws that protect people from lawsuits if they genuinely attempt to help. Once the child/pet is safely removed from the car, call local emergency services.

[Image via Pexels]

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