As the sun beats down relentlessly, your parked car transforms into a treacherous oven, capable of reaching dangerously high temperatures within a matter of minutes. This escalating heat poses a grave risk to anyone left inside, especially vulnerable individuals such as children and pets.

The Dangers of Hyperthermia

The human body relies on sweating to regulate its temperature. However, when trapped in a hot car, the body's ability to cool itself is severely compromised. As the temperature rises, the body's core temperature increases, leading to a condition known as hyperthermia.

Hyperthermia can manifest in various forms, from mild heat exhaustion to life-threatening heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, nausea, headache, cramps, and weakness. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, characterized by a body temperature exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit, seizures, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

The Rapid Rise in Temperature

Even on a relatively mild day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to alarming levels. Studies have shown that within just 10 minutes, the temperature can increase by 19 degrees Fahrenheit. After 30 minutes, it can climb by a staggering 43 degrees.

The rate at which the temperature rises depends on several factors, including the ambient temperature, the amount of sunlight reaching the car, and the color of the car. Darker-colored cars absorb more heat, leading to a faster temperature increase.

The Importance of Prevention

Given the grave risks associated with heat stroke, it is imperative to take every precaution to prevent it from occurring. Here are some essential steps:

  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a parked car. Even for a few minutes, the consequences can be deadly.
  • Roll down windows slightly. This allows for some air circulation, but ensure that the car is locked and secure.
  • Park in the shade. When possible, choose a parking spot that is not exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Use sunshades. Dashboard sunshades can deflect sunlight and help reduce the temperature inside the car.
  • Install a solar fan. These fans can circulate air and help cool the car down.

What to Do in an Emergency

If you encounter a child or pet trapped in a hot car, immediate action is crucial. Call 911 without hesitation. While waiting for help, attempt to break a window with a heavy object, such as a rock or a hammer. Remove the individual from the car and place them in a cool place. If they are unresponsive or experiencing seizures, begin CPR immediately.


The high temperatures inside parked cars pose a grave threat to life. By understanding the dangers, taking preventive measures, and responding promptly to emergencies, we can help protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our pets from this deadly hazard.

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