DMV: Don't Leave Children, Pets or Elderly Unattended in Hot Vehicles

June 16, 2014

During warm weather, leaving pets, children or the elderly unattended in vehicles is dangerous and may be fatal. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' Highway Safety Office wants all Virginians to remember that hot vehicles can kill.

"When outside temperatures are in the low 80s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes, even when parked in the shade," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb.

According to Safe Kids USA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. Since 1998, more than 600 children in the United States have died from heatstroke when left unattended in a vehicle. Nearly 90 percent were children three and younger. Children are at a high risk since their bodies’ heat up three to five times faster than adults.

Not only are children and older adults vulnerable, but pets left in hot vehicles can also suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage and death. Dogs and cats are prone to extreme heat since they can't perspire.

"These kinds of tragedies are 100 percent preventable," Holcomb said.

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