‘A minute can turn into 10 minutes’: The Dangers of leaving a Child or Pet Unattended in a Hot Car


CULLMAN – As the summer months approach and the temperature begins to rise many have their minds set on getting a tan or enjoying the outdoors, but some neglect to take into consideration the dangers of the heat. Generally, keeping cool outside can be achieved by staying hydrated and in the shade, but one place where it can be difficult to keep cool is inside a vehicle. Though it may feel moderately warm outside, the inside of a car can feel like an oven, even with the windows cracked.

Kenny Culpepper, Chief of Police at the Cullman Police Department explained, “People don’t realize how quickly it can happen because they think it’s not that hot out there. Well it’s the greenhouse effect; the sun’s coming through the windows and it can heat up 30 to 40 degrees in an hour.” This greenhouse effect can cause a vehicle's temperature level to become too hot for an adult which can be critical for a child or pet.

It is up to a parent or guardian of the child to ensure he or she is kept cool. Having a low heat tolerance, children heat up faster and do not sweat as much as an adult. “Even though we think I’m going in for just a minute, you run into someone you know and start talking. Or if something happens to you, no one knows the child is in the car. A minute can turn into 10 minutes,” stated Chief Culpepper.

Tips from KidsAndCars for Ensuring Children or Pets are Not Left Inside a Hot Vehicle:

  • Leave a stuffed animal in the car seat whenever a child or pet is not occupying it. When the car seat is occupied put the animal in the front where it can be seen.
  • Habitually check the backseat before exiting the vehicle.
  • Place a needed item in the backseat such as a purse, phone, or briefcase.

Anyone that sees a child or pet alone in a hot car should take action and call 911. 

For further details about ways to keep children safe in and around vehicles, visit KidsAndCars.org.