In this sweltering North Carolina heat, I can think of plenty of ways to escape or coexist with the merciless summer sun: cooling off by the pool, taking a shady walk down the greenway or relaxing in my air-conditioned apartment. You’ll notice I didn’t list “trapping myself in a hot, parked car” because, well, isn’t it obvious? No one would ever willingly subject himself or herself to that kind of torture. So why do we still hear about people leaving their pets and even their own children in the dangerously intense heat of a parked car on a summer day?
On July 8, a 31-year-old mother left her two children, a 7-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, in the car in a Charlotte Walmart parking lot without the engine running. She was charged with one count of child abuse.
And we’ve all seen or heard stories of pets left in cars with the windows rolled up and the engine off. If you must leave your pet in the car, at least have the decency to run the air conditioner.
If common sense isn’t compelling enough, there are other valuable examples, which show just how terrible the conditions are.
A family in nearby Lancaster, S.C. tragically learned the devastating effects when their 3-year-old son, Logan Cox, accidentally trapped himself and his dog inside a hot car for 30 minutes before being found. The dog had already died, and Logan died days later in the hospital. Their loss just goes to show how real the danger and consequences are.
Earlier this month, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward posted a video to YouTube to demonstrate the effects of a hot, enclosed vehicle firsthand; the video has since received over one million views.
In the video, Dr. Ward records himself sitting in a parked car with a thermometer to describe how it feels and document the drastically increasing temperature. After 30 minutes in the car, the temperature had risen from 94 degrees to 117 degrees. He mentioned that although cracking the windows an inch or two sounds like it might help, it did not provide any additional breeze or comfort.
It’s shocking that something this obvious still needs to be advocated for, but people continue to leave their pets or children unattended as they run into the store. Before you start thinking that just a couple of minutes won’t hurt, remember: Hot, parked cars can kill.