CINCINNATI, Oh. –With a heat advisory in effect for the entire region from noon to 8 p.m. today, AAA is reminding motorists about the dangers of leaving children and pets in hot cars. According to the National Weather Service, heat and humidity will make it feel like 100 degrees.
“Drivers may think it’s okay to leave children and pets unattended in a vehicle while they run a quick errand,” says Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “The decision to choose perceived convenience over safety can have tragic consequences.”
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger, with an average of 37 fatalities per year since 1998.
Between 1998 and 2017, 19 children in Ohio have died as a result of vehicular heat stroke.
Between 1998 and 2017, 17 children in Kentucky have died as a result of vehicular heat stroke.
Some scary statistics:
- Thus far this year, 13 children have died from vehicular heatstroke across the country.
- Vehicle heatstroke claimed the lives of 42 children in 2017.
- A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body
- A child can die of heat stroke on a 72-degree day
- On a 95-degree day a car can heat up to over 180-degrees
- The steering wheel can reach 159 degrees (temperature for cooking medium rare meat)
- The seats can reach 162 degrees (temperature for cooking ground beef)
- The dash can reach 181 degrees (temperature for cooking poultry)
- At 104 degrees internal organs start to shut down
- Of the more than 700 heatstroke deaths in children from 1998-2017:
- 54% child “forgotten” by caregiver (400 children)
- 27% child playing in unattended vehicle (200 children)
- 18% child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (137 children)
- 1% - circumstances unknown (5)
AAA Urges Motorists To ACT:
- A—Avoid heatstroke by never leaving a child in the car alone, not even for a minute.
- C—Create reminders by putting something in the backseat you need when exiting the car - for example, a cell phone, purse, wallet, briefcase or shoes. Never leave car keys or car remote where children can get to them.
- T—Take action and immediately call 9-1-1- if you notice a child unattended in a car.
Hot Cars & Pets
When it comes to heatstroke, your animals are also at risk. Leaving them in a vehicle while you run into a store, take a break at a rest stop during a family road trip or for any other reason, can have deadly consequences.
Animals left in hot cars can face irreversible organ damage, heat stroke, brain damage and death.
Signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats can include:
- Excessive drooling
- Reddened gums and tongue
- Rapid heart rate
- Wobbly, uncoordinated movement
Animals also face increased risk when they have factors like age (very young, very old), obesity, poor heart/lung conditioning, are a short-nosed, flat-faced breed, or have a thick hair coat.
In 2016, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 215 into law allowing a person to break into a hot car to save a minor or pet. The law allows immunity from civil liability for any damage resulting from the forcible entry of a vehicle to save a minor or pet as long as the person takes the follow steps:
- Determines the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise no reasonable method for the minor or the animal to exit the vehicle.
- Believes forcible entry is necessary because the minor or pet is in imminent danger or death.
- Makes an effort to contact law enforcement, the fire department or a 9-1-1 operator prior to forcibly entering the vehicle. If contact is not possible before forcibly entering the vehicle, contacts law enforcement or an emergency responder as soon as possible after forcibly entering the vehicle.
- Places a notice on the vehicle's windshield with the person's contact information, the reason the entry was made, the location of the minor or the animal, and the fact that the authorities have been notified.
- Remains with the minor or the animal in a safe location until law enforcement or emergency responders arrive.
- Uses no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the minor or the animal than is necessary under the circumstances.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.