DMV reminds drivers not to leave children in hot vehicles as temperatures rise

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 3:42 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As temperatures start to rise, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is urging drivers never to leave children or pets in a hot vehicle.

In 2020, there were 24 children who died in the United States as the result of being left in a hot car, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports.

When the temperature outside is 80 degrees, a car can heat up to 100 in just 10 minutes. Officials said parking in the share or rolling down a car’s window has little effect, and that children have died in cars when temperatures were as low as 60 degrees.

“As the weather is warming up in the Commonwealth and we are traveling more frequently, we need to establish habits that will help keep our children and pets safe when we get out of our vehicles,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “All hot car deaths are preventable and we - as parents, caregivers, and bystanders - have a responsibility to keep those more vulnerable to heatstroke safe.”

Children and pets are especially prone to be harmed by heatstroke.

“Children heat up three-to-five times faster than adults, according to Pets cannot sweat like humans; they can only cool down through panting, according to the Humane Society of the United States. High temperatures can cause irreparable organ damage in pets and even death,” a release said.

Officials said it is always good to “look before you lock.” A helpful reminder could be to put a toy in the back seat when it is empty and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when there is a child or animal in the back seat.

Caregivers should also be reminded of the dangers of heat when traveling with the elderly. As people age, it becomes more difficult to regulate temperature.

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