Hot Cars Spell Trouble for Children and Pets

Monday was National Heatstroke Prevention Day, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee used the day to remind drivers to "look before you lock."

More than a half of the 700 cases of children's death from heatstroke in cars between 1998 and 2016 occurred because adults forgot the child in the vehicle, according to the release. The D.M.V. and traffic safety committee have suggested that parents keep a stuffed animal in the child's car seat when the child is not present, and move it to the front when a child is in the back as a reminder that they are there. They also advise keeping a purse or briefcase in the backseat to force the driver to turn around before exiting the car.

Even 60-degree weather is potentially fatal in a closed car because the temperature can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. A slightly opened window does not provide sufficient cool air.

Other safety tips for parents and caregivers include locking cars and keeping the keys out of children's reach to prevent them from playing in a hot vehicle, which can also lead to heatstroke.

Those who see children alone in a locked car have been urged to immediately call 911, and to stay with him or her until help arrives, while sending someone else to look for the driver. If the child is unresponsive or seems sick, try to get him or her out of the car, and spray the child with cool water, the D.M.V. and traffic safety committee say.

Indications of heat stroke are red and hot skin, no sweating, either rapid or weak pulse, nausea, and confusion.

Pets are also at a risk if left in a hot vehicle. If an animal is panting heavily, vomiting, and has glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue, applying cool water all over its body can help. It should be taken immediately to a veterinarian.

Those who see pets locked in a hot car should also call 911 and a local animal care and control agency.