Danger in a parked vehicle

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 27, 2002

We have all noticed lately how easy it is to drive around with the air conditioning in our vehicles keeping us at a comfortable 78 degrees Fahrenheit, the whole while knowing that it is 100 degrees F. outside, which has been the case during every day this week.

And too, we have all noticed that even for the shortest of trips into the store for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread, when we return to the car, it is unbearable to sit in, until the old A/C has done its job once again.

That should start a light bulb glowing in our heads, but often it doesn’t, creating another tragic story for media to report.

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By this, we mean the children, especially smaller children that have lower tolerances to high temperatures, or the little four legged friends n our cats and dogs or other various pets, that we leave in the car for that quick trip.

The reason that the interior of our vehicle is unbearable is that in the modern age of motor vehicle efficiency, our vehicles are both better insulated, and better proofed against sound. Since sound waves travel through the air, it only makes sense that if sound cannot move in and out of a closed-up vehicle, neither can air. If the air cannot move in and out of the vehicle, it just pressurizes in the hot sun, and as it does, those children and pets left in the vehicle begin to literally &uot;bake.&uot;

It is not uncommon for a pressurized car interior to reach 150-200 degrees Fahrenheit in 10-15 minutes time, while sitting on a black-topped (thus, more heat-absorbent) parking lot in the direct sunlight.

Children begin to shut down inside, especially in the areas of vital organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, once the body’s core temperature reaches 104 degrees F.

Animals are usually covered in thick fur, and this acts as a further insulation.

Take the longhaired breeds of dogs, for instance. It is because of this thick fur that they pant so much, moving air in and out through their mouths in a rapid attempt to cool down the core body temperature.

The air temperature, as it reaches more than 100 degrees F., becomes more difficult to breath, because as the body’s normal mechanisms are trying to eliminate the heat, the air exchange is bringing more heat in then is going out, and suffocation occurs.

Please think of those that cannot control the environment around them, and don’t leave small children and animals in a car anytime, but especially during the hot summer months.

Not only is it dangerous, it is also a crime.