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Authorities Warn of Hot Car Danger

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Public safety leaders in Cedar Rapids are reminding residents of the dangers of leaving pets and kids in hot cars this time of year.  Below is an official statement from the city of Cedar Rapids.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department and Cedar Rapids Fire Department would like to remind citizens of the hazards of leaving children and pets inside a motor vehicle even for short periods of time.  Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children.  It occurs when the body isnt able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels.  Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adults.  When a childs internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that childs temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.
Cars heat up quickly and a tragedy could occur quickly.  In fact, the temperature inside a motor vehicle increases by about 19 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes.  Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death.
The Police Department and Fire Department are coordinators of the Linn County Safe Kids Coalition, which advocates child safety information.  According to Safe Kids, every 10 days in the United States a child dies when left alone in a hot car.  In over half of the incidents (52 percent), the child was forgotten by the caregiver.  Twenty-nine percent of the time the child was playing in an unattended vehicle.  In 2013, 43 children died from heatstroke.

The Police Department and Fire Department offer the following advice to avoid heat stroke-related injury and death:

    Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.  Make sure that you keep your car locked when youre not in it so kids dont get inside by themselves.
    Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such a briefcase, a purse, or a cellular phone that is needed at your final destination.  This is especially important if you are not following your normal routine.
    If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.  Emergency personnel want you to call.  Police officers and firefighters are trained to respond to these situations and your action could save a childs life.

Pets are also susceptible to serious injury or even death by being left in a motor vehicle.  When it is 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked can soar to 102 degrees in 10 minutes and 120 degrees in just half an hour.  On hotter days, the temperature will climb even higher.  Because dogs rely on panting and are not able to sweat, dogs cannot cool themselves like people can and their body temperature can rise quickly.  Dogs could suffer severe illness, organ damage, or even death.
In Cedar Rapids, it is unlawful for any person to allow an animal to remain unattended in a motor vehicle when the animals life, health or safety is threatened.  Therefore, leaving your dog for just a minute is too long.  It is not cool to leave a dog in a hot car.
For more information, please visit Linn County Safe Kids Coalition Facebook page at or the Safe Kids Worldwide website at
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