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New York State Warns of Dangers of Leaving Children and Pets in Hot Cars


As high temperatures continue across New York State, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is warning New Yorkers of the danger children and pets face when left in hot cars. Unfortunately, multiple deaths have been reported after children and pets have been left in a hot vehicle. Heatstroke or death due to hot cars occurs most commonly when an adult unintentionally forgets a child or pet, who may be quiet or sleeping in a rear-facing seat. Along with these incidents, children can also gain unsupervised access to parked cars and get stuck inside, especially if child safety locks are on. There is a real and severe danger in extreme weather and when temperatures don’t “feel” hot. At 60 degrees outside, after just one hour a closed car can get as hot as 105 degrees.

“Hot weather can pose many risks to New Yorkers, and one of the most prevalent dangers comes from children or pets being left unsupervised in hot cars,” said Secretary of State Walter T. Mosley. “As temperatures continue to rise this week and throughout the summer, I urge all New Yorkers to remember these life-saving tips and remain attentive when getting in and out of your car because just a simple mistake or a few minutes’ time can put your loved one in serious danger.”

Tragically, 1,083 children have died nationwide due to Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke since 1990. Fifteen of these were in New York State. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), every year many pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles. In 2023 alone, 163 animals died due to heat-related deaths, and another 855 were rescued from the heat. Anyone found responsible for leaving a child or pet alone in a hot car could face criminal charges.

Safety Tips for Children

  • Never leave a child in an unattended vehicle in the warm weather, not even with the windows slightly open or down, due to the risk of heatstroke (hyperthermia).
  • If you see a child in a hot car, call 911 right away and follow their instructions. Emergency personnel are trained to respond.
  • Teach children not to play in or around vehicles and to alert an adult when a friend is playing in a vehicle without supervision. Make sure children understand the dangers of trunk entrapment (suffocation, heatstroke, etc.).
  • Place something you need, like keys, a purse or bag, or your cell phone, next to your child’s car seat so you will remember to check the backseat before you lock the car. Alternatively, place a stuffed toy in your child’s car seat when not in use and move the toy to the front passenger seat when your child is in his/her car seat as a reminder that your child is in the vehicle.
  • Use drive-through services whenever possible while driving with a child in a vehicle.
  • It is vital to recognize the symptoms of heatstroke in children. Symptoms include absence of sweat, confusion, disorientation, flushed skin, loss of alertness, unconsciousness or rapid/shallow breathing.

Safety Tips for Pets

  • Never leave a pet unattended in the car. Like children, dogs and other animals have a harder time staying cool, leaving them extremely vulnerable to heatstroke.
  • A car can overheat even when the window has been left cracked an inch or two. Parking in the shade or leaving water in the vehicle won’t prevent your pet from overheating, either.
  • According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), young, overweight or senior animals or those with short muzzles or thick or dark coats are most at risk for overheating.
  • If you see a pet in a hot car, call 911 immediately.
  • Recognize the symptoms of heatstroke in pets and take action if you see them. Symptoms include restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy and lack of appetite or coordination.

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