As the many communities across North Carolina battle record high temperatures this week, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey and Safe Kids North Carolina are reminding people of the dangers of leaving children and pets in cars as we approach the ‘dog days of summer’.
Commissioner Causey, who also serves as the Chair of Safe Kids NC, observed how quickly a vehicle can heat to dangerous, sometimes deadly temperatures.
“Summers are great in North Carolina, but the warmer temperatures also mean the very real danger of heatstroke,” Commissioner Causey said. “It only takes 10 minutes for the temperature inside a car to rise to unsafe levels.”
Across the country each year, 35 to 40 children die because of heat exposure in cars. In fact, 53% of child heatstroke deaths occur because a caregiver has forgotten a child in the car. Since 1998, 32 children have died in North Carolina from a being left in a hot vehicle. July is the deadliest month for cases of vehicular hyperthermia in children, but the danger spreads from March through November in our area due to the subtropical North Carolina climate.
Pets are also susceptible to even mildly hot temperatures in vehicles, where an animal in a car on an 80-degree day can experience temperatures close to 100 degrees after 10 minutes and close to 115 degrees after 30 minutes.
Symptoms of overheating in pets can include:
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- Increased heart and respiratory rate
- Mild weakness or stupor
“Even the best of parents and pet owners can make the deadly mistake of leaving their child or animal unattended, and that’s why we’re trying to educate people before a tragedy can occur,” Commissioner Causey said. “These statistics demand the increased education of all parents and caregivers that it is never safe to leave a child or animal unattended in a vehicle.”
For more tips on how to avoid heat-related incidents, visit https://www.ncosfm.gov/community-risk-reduction/safe-kids/heatstroke-never-leave-your-child-alone.