It’s been dangerously hot outside this weekend and a concern you hear about every year in the heat is leaving kids and pets in your car.
More than 700 children have died of heatstroke after being left in cars over the last 19 years, according to a study by San Jose State University; three of those children were in South Dakota.
This year alone, 11 children have died across the country. Many in southern states like Texas and Florida.
Yet, with temperatures peeking into the upper 90s in some parts of KELOLAND, the heat danger is high.
If you leave children or pets in an enclosed car on days like today, the consequences could be deadly. Patrol Officer Brady Lieuwen says it doesn’t take long for inside temps to rise rapidly.
“Today it’s windy so it doesn’t feel as bad. But inside the car there’s not that breeze. You’re temperature spikes real fast,” Lieuwen said.
Animal Control Officer Milo Hartson put his heat gage to the test. At the time, temps were in the mid-80s. Yet, inside a patrol car, it was 116 degrees.
“The vehicle itself is actually a heat box with the sun shining on the dash. The dash is usually leather and it conducts heat,” Hartson said.
Temperatures that hot are too much for a child or pet to handle. Pretty soon, symptoms of heat stroke will start to set in.
“They start shutting down. Their body functions will make it hard to survive in a car when it’s that hot,” Lieuwen said.
“Pets can’t sweat and cool off like we can. The vehicle isn’t cool so he can’t catch any cool air to calm down or cool off,” Hartson said.
As a last resort, officers will break through car windows to rescue pets and children left inside. The person responsible for leaving them there could face child neglect or animal abuse charges.
“Anywhere from a citation to a class one misdemeanor or even a felony if the dog would die,” Hartson said.
“We take it pretty serious. It’s not something that we just write a citation for and send you on your way. It’s something that we’re not going to take lightly,” Lieuwen said.
If you see and child or pet left it a car, call 911. However, police say you should not confront the parent or owner.