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July 07, 2017

Dangers of Leaving Children and/or Pets in a Hot Vehicle

If you've spent even a week in Texas, you'll know that Texas weather can fluctuate by the minute. Even a "quick" stop at your nearest convenience store can make the internal climate of your vehicle escalate to astonishing temperatures. Understanding the consequences of leaving children and/or pets unattended in a hot vehicle can prevent dire accidents from occurring and potentially save lives.

How high can temperatures rise on a warm day?

Even on a warm day, temperatures can reach dangerous conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when the temperature outside ranges from 80°F – 100°F (which isn't irregular for Texas), the internal temperature of a car parked under direct sunlight can quickly climb anywhere between 130°F – 172°F. It can turn into a literal oven in a matter of minutes!

Would cracking a window open help with the airflow?

Regardless of the window being slightly open, there is still a limited amount of airflow running. If it helps, imagine your vehicle more like a greenhouse. Just like the sun helps warm the plants during the winter, it does the same for your vehicle. The sun heats up a mass of air trapped under the glass; however, it has difficulty passing through the glass walls and is trapped inside, thus creating a greenhouse effect. This means, that regardless of how windy it may feel outside, as long as the sun is still out, it's considered a hazard to leave your child or pets unattended in the car.

Is leaving a child unattended in a vehicle illegal in Texas?

By law in the state of Texas, you are prohibited to leave a child under the age of 7 unattended or under supervision of anyone younger than 14 years of age in a motor vehicle for more than five minutes. This may result in being charged with a class C misdemeanor. As noted, it only takes a couple of minutes for the internal temperature in your car to spike up. When the climate begins to escalate, it gets harder to regulate your internal body temperature. It's important to note that children can heat up 3 – 5 times faster than an adult. The human body can enter a state of heat exhaustion or even suffer a heat stroke when your body temperature has reached 104°F. This can lead to permanent damages to the brain or other body organs. If the child is injured during the time that they are left unattended, you can be charged with a felony.

Is this law applicable to pets?

Although there are currently no statutes that address leaving your four-legged friend unattended, it is still considered animal cruelty and could lead to a punishable offense. Keep in mind that pets do not have sweat glands that help regulate their body temperature much like humans. Their source of heat exchange is by panting and they can also suffer from heat exhaustion if their internal temperature reaches 105°F or a heat stroke at 107°F.

It should always be your best intention to avoid making these alarming mistakes. Your friends at A-MAX Auto Insurance want to remind you to assess the risks before taking action. If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call the authorities immediately!


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