LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The summer season is an especially dangerous time for anyone using vehicles in hot weather. It doesn’t take a lot of time or heat outside for a car to warm significantly.

Each year, children and pets are left alone in vehicles, resulting in serious illness and/or death.

When the outdoor temperature is in the 70’s, it only takes about ten minutes for the temperature inside a closed vehicle to reach 90 degrees. In just 30 minutes, the temperature in the car will be above 100 degrees.

When the outdoor temperature rises to the 80’s, the temperature inside a closed vehicle will reach 100 degrees in about ten minutes.

Outdoor temperatures in the 90’s result in an internal vehicle temperature of 100 degrees in less than ten minutes, heating further above 120 degrees in one half hour.

Studies show that leaving the windows slightly cracked does not impactfully slow the heating process or lessen the highest temperature recorded inside the vehicle.

Incoming solar radiation, which is also known as “shortwave radiation,” enters vehicles through transparent windows and gets absorbed in a car’s interior (dashboard, steering wheel, leather seats, dark interior).

The interior of the car releases heat, as well, known as “longwave radioation.” The longwave radiation is weaker than shortwave radiation, but because it gets trapped inside the vehicle, it continues to heat up the air in the car by means of convection.

Extreme Heat Safety:

To prevent serious heat related illness or death, children and pets should never be left alone in a vehicle. The same can be said for persons with preexisting health conditions and the elderly.

According to PETA, a dog can die from heatstroke in a car within minutes, even if the car is in the shade with the windows slightly opened. It’s best to keep animals indoors during high heat conditions.

More heat/health safety tips from the National Weather Service:

  • drink plenty of water – avoid sugary drinks, caffeine and alcoholic beverages
  • wear loose-fitting, light colored and lightweight clothing
  • use sunscreen for time spent outdoors (sunburn reduces the body’s ability to cool down)
  • keep shades drawn and blinds closed inside during the day and use air conditioning when available
  • take cool baths or showers
  • do not leave children or pets in a closed vehicle
  • provide extra water and access to a cool environment for pets

The United States Department of Transportation is working to combat child vehicular heatstroke deaths across the country with its “Park, Look, Lock” campaign.

There are several steps you may take to keep your kids safe. For example:

  • Keep your car locked at all times to prevent a child from climbing in and getting trapped inside.
  • Never leave your child in a car when running errands, not even for one minute.

To read more about the DOT’s campaign to keep kids from getting locked in hot cars, click HERE.