Billings, Montana sees average high temperatures around 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. On the hottest day, the heat can reach highs around 90 degrees. Even on cool days, the temperatures inside a parked vehicle can climb to life-threatening levels. There have been cases of children dying of heatstroke when outside temperatures didn’t even surpass 66 degrees. This summer, keep your children and pets safe by always bringing them with you – even on quick errands. Heat can kill in a matter of minutes.

Heatstroke and Children

It gets dangerously hot inside cars at a much faster rate than most people realize. When the outside temperature is 70 degrees and sunny, the temperature inside a car can reach 104 degrees in just 20 minutes. Even cars parked in the shade will get too hot to be safe for children and pets – the car becomes a greenhouse, circulating the same air and heating up in minutes. Leaving the windows cracked has no effect on the temperature increase inside the car. Children under the age of one are at the highest risk of heatstroke, yet children as old as 13 and 14 have died in hot cars.

Children are at an increased risk of heatstroke in hot cars due to the chemical makeup of their bodies. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s. Furthermore, they’re trapped in car seats, which don’t allow for free movement. At a body temperature of 104 degrees, heatstroke occurs. Heatstroke in children can quickly turn lethal. At 107 degrees, a child usually can’t recover.

In 2017, there have already been 19 heatstroke deaths from children left in hot cars. As summer reaches its peak, the odds are high that more children will join this statistic. Unfortunately, most hot car-related child deaths are accidents – parents or guardians get busy and forget the child is still in the car. Put items such as your purse or briefcase in the backseat when children are in the car to help you remember they’re there. Never let your child play in an unattended vehicle.

Pet Safety in Hot Cars

Every summer, more dogs die in hot cars. As the minutes tick by, the temperatures inside vehicles steadily climb until they aren’t safe for pets. When the outside temperature is 90 degrees, it takes just ten minutes for the inside of a car to reach a scorching 109 degrees. Even with windows cracked, the air inside a vehicle can get stifling and dangerous. Trapping a dog inside a parked car can turn deadly in minutes.

Dogs can’t perspire, which makes high temperatures more dangerous for them than for humans. They pant to lower body temperature, but inside a parked car, panting doesn’t bring relief; instead, it recycles hot air. For smaller and older dogs, high temperatures can quickly damage the pet’s health. Even if the dog doesn’t die from heatstroke, the experience can lead to organ damage, brain damage, and coma. Your dog may never be the same after 20 minutes in a hot car. Heatstroke death is a terrible way for a pet to go. Dogs may bark, whine, and fret for minutes on end before the heat becomes unbearable.

If you see a child or pet stuck in a hot car this summer, call 911 immediately. Notify local businesses of the issue to try to spot the parents or owners. If the situation appears life-threatening, you may need to forcibly enter the vehicle to rescue the child or dog. This summer, protect your loved ones by never leaving them inside parked cars. The situation can quickly get out of your control and end in tragedy.