Editorial: Don't overheat

With temperatures rising, there is a real danger of harming children or pets left in cars, even for a few moments.

After issuing a written warning to a resident last week for leaving a dog inside a car on a hot day outside a grocery store, Wilton police issued a summer safety alert.

The temperature inside a car can rise very quickly even when it is parked in the shade, police said.

According to a chart police included with their alert, when it is 75 degrees outside, after 20 minutes the temperature inside a closed car tops 100 degrees. When it’s 85 degrees outside, it takes less than 10 minutes for  the temperature to top 100. After half an hour, the temperature soars to 119 degrees.

The nonprofit safety group Kids and Cars reports more than 600 children in the U.S. have died from being left in hot cars since 1990. The number of pets who have died that way is probably far more.

No one does this on purpose, but it is tempting to not want to disturb a sleeping baby or to run into a store for just a “few” minutes and leave a pet in the car. But even five minutes is too many.

Once a person’s body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, heat stroke may occur, resulting in dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, loss of consciousness, and/or death.

Because dogs don’t sweat to cool themselves, they are perhaps even more vulnerable to hot temperatures.

There have been unfortunate cases where a driver forgets their child is with them and they are locked in the car. This can happen if the child is in a car seat directly behind the driver and the driver doesn’t usually take them to daycare or a sitter. Placing a briefcase or a purse next to the child can be a good reminder.

If you are running errands in warm weather, leave your dog at home and take your child into stores with you.

If you see a child or a pet left in a car, call 911.