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HPD warns about dangers of leaving children, pets in hot cars

Posted: 8:30 PM, Jul 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-17 22:30:00-04

HELENA – The Helena Police Department (HPD) is kicking off its first “Tip-of-the-Month” this July with warnings on the health hazards and dangers of leaving pets and children unattended for extended periods of time in hot cars.

Summer heat can sometimes come late to Big Sky Country, and with it come the dangers of heatstroke to young children and even beloved pets.

Monica Kuehn, an HPD officer, said temperatures in the summer can get dangerously hot very quickly.

“The problem is with the temperature of the car, and within the first 10 minutes, 80% of that temperature increase happens within that time,” said Kuehn.

HPD told MTN that even the most responsible parents and caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping child in the car, and the results can be deadly.

Kuehn continued, “In minutes, that temperature in that car raises well above 100 degrees.”

According to heatkills.org, if the temperature outside is 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the actual temperature inside of the vehicle can reach up to a staggering 109 degrees in just 10 minutes. By 30 minutes, it can be as hot as 124 degrees.

HPD Police Corporal Josh Ray said even when the temperatures outside may feel comfortable to us, they can still be dangerous.

“The vehicle absorbs that heat, and you also have a dog that has that fur coat all the time, and on top of that, his own body heat is going to raise the temperature in the vehicle and make it to where he’s having a hard time,” said Ray.

The advocacy group kidsandcars.org says 2018 was the deadliest year since 1990 for hot-vehicle-related fatalities, with 52 children passing in hot cars.

In 2019, 21 deaths have been attributed to heatstroke by being left in a hot car.

Kuehn gave some candid advice for residents about how to avoid this devastating and unnecessary situation, saying: “Some useful tips to help you avoid leaving a child in the back of the car, or even a pet, [are] to put something important in there that you can’t go on your day without — a laptop, a purse, your cell phone… Throw it in the back with your child. That way, you remember that your child is back there and we can help prevent some of these deaths that shouldn’t happen in the first place,” Kuehn stated.

-Reported by Christine Sullivan/MTN News