FEELING THE HEAT: AAA Mid-Atlantic Reminds Drivers of Heat-Related Dangers 

Summer is heating up; kids and pets remain at risk.

PHILADELPHIA, PA (July 20, 2020) – The Delaware Valley is currently set on sizzle with temperatures topping 90 degrees over the last few days. If you think it’s hot outside, it’s even hotter inside your car. Every nine days, across the United States, a child dies while unattended in a hot car. It only takes a few minutes for a car to heat up and become deadly to a child or pet left inside. As summer temperatures rise, more kids are at risk – nine children in the U.S. under the age of five have died in hot cars since the beginning of the year.  

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger. According to KidsAndCars.org, over 940 children have died in hot cars nationwide since 1990, with an average of 39 fatalities per year. Studies have shown about 56% of child hot car deaths in vehicles were caused by adults forgetting the children, and 26% of victims were playing in an unattended vehicle.   

“In the summer heat, a vehicle’s interior can reach lethal temperatures very quickly, essentially creating an oven, causing a child’s internal organs to shut down if left unattended inside,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Young children should never be left alone in a vehicle under any circumstances. The same is true for pets. Make it a routine to look twice and check the back seat before you leave and lock the car. If you have to put a reminder note on your dashboard, an alarm on your phone or a stuffed animal in the front seat to remember to take a child out of the car, do it.”  

Some scary statistics:

  • To date, nine children have died from vehicular heatstroke in 2020.
  • Vehicle heatstroke claimed the lives of 53 children in 2019.
  • 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

 AAA Mid-Atlantic Urges Motorists To ACT:

  • A – Avoid heatstroke by never leaving a child in the car alone, not even for a minute
  • C – Create electronic reminders or put something in the backseat you will need when exiting the car – a cell phone, purse, wallet, briefcase or shoes. Always lock your car and 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.

AAA Mid-Atlantic’s efforts to make all drivers aware of this issue includes a video showing just how hot the inside of a vehicle can become.

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. Make no mistake – just because your pet can’t tell you they are in distress, doesn’t mean they aren’t. Animals left in hot cars can face irreversible organ damage, heat stroke, brain damage and, in extreme cases, death.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats can include:

  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Reddened gums and tongue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated movement

Animals are also at a more severe rate of 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 2017, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act (House Bill 1216) prohibiting the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health and well-being of the animal. Under the bill, a police officer, humane officer or other public safety professional would have the authority to remove the dog or cat from the unattended motor vehicle if the officer believes the dog or cat is suffering and endangered after a reasonable search for the owner or operator of the vehicle. The officer who removes a cat or dog from an unattended vehicle would not be held liable for any damages. 

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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than 3.2 million members in Pennsylvania.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works 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 appss for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit www.AAA.com.

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This event had:

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This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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