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Warm weather can be deadly for children, pets left in car

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Child in car seat
Child in car seat

UNDATED (WSAU) - As the warm summer days arrive, we’re reminded that it’s not safe to leave children in the car... even for a few minutes.

Jeff Kraft is the Interim Lincoln County Emergency Management Director. He says it may be mild outside, but the inside of the car can heat up very fast to dangerous levels. “Children’s temperature rises a lot faster than an adult, up to five times faster, and temperatures in a car, even when the outside temperature is as low as 60 degrees can get up to 110 degrees inside if the car is left unattended outside with the doors and windows up.”

Kraft says we must remember that children can get very hot very fast while sitting in a car. “When a person’s core temperature is at 104 degrees, you’re getting heat stroke, and at 107 degrees, you’re going to die from it. Children’s body temperature goes up a lot faster than an adult.”

He says the start of the heat season for Wisconsin is about a month away, but it is not too early to be concerned about the danger of leaving children or pets unattended in vehicles. Studies show that heatstroke can occur on days with relatively mild temperatures, about 70 degrees. Heatstroke in vehicles is the leading cause of all non-crash-related fatalities involving children 14 and younger.

Kraft says it’s important to get children out of the car, and if you see someone else’s children in danger, call for help. “Don’t leave your children in the car. If you see someone’s child in a car, call 9-1-1. You’ll never be told you shouldn’t have called for that. Always look in the back seat and check your vehicle every time you get out.”

Since 1998, an average of 38 children per year, or about one every 10 days, have died in automobiles as a result of heatstroke.

There are some useful online tools from the government, including Safer Car tips and the National Weather Service heat index information. 

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