As temperatures begin to rise, so do car interiors

Precautions for those with heat sensitivities and weakened immune systems.

Even mild external temperatures can quickly raise the temperature inside a closed vehicle to dangerously high levels.

Sitting in a closed up car for 10 minutes can cause the body’s core temperature to climb. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report that very high body temperatures can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, as well as heat stroke or death. For individuals with chronic disease, weakened immune systems, the elderly or the very young (and pets), high temperatures coupled with heat sensitive immune systems can rapidly become dangerous.

Michigan State University Extension offers the following information to help you and your family stay safe:

  • When outside temperatures are in the 60 degree Fahrenheit range it will cause the temperature insides a closed car to rise well above 110 F.
  • The temperature inside the car does not have to hit 100 F for a person to be at risk.
  • The inside of a closed vehicle acts like a greenhouse, trapping sunlight and heat making the inside of the car much hotter than the air outside. Even when outside temperatures are mild, anyone sitting in a closed car for a short period of time (20 minutes) is at risk of hyperthermia (body temperature greatly above normal).
  • Child safety - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers valuable tips on preventing heat stroke to children in parked cars. They have also investigated various alarms and reminder technology equipment for cars that help reduce heat stroke fatalities.
Take precautions
  • Avoid leaving anyone unattended in a closed vehicle. Rolling down the window two-inches or even half way, won’t help cool the interior temperature.
  • Lock your cars while at home. Children have died from getting into cars, for whatever reason, an then becoming confused and trapped inside the vehicle.
  • Always check the car seats before leaving the vehicle. Making a visual check of the car a part of your routine can help make sure that no child or pet is left unintentionally in the car. Use notes, colored stickers or some type of reminder system so when you exit your car you check the backseat.
Learn the laws
  • Become informed by learning about your state’s vehicle code. Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles and/or contact any local law enforcement agency.
  • Keep a watchful eye and if you sense that a child or pet is left unattended in a vehicle and is in danger, don’t hesitate to seek help. Do not go in search of the car owner. Dial 911 and let the authorities handle the situation.

For more information on health and wellness visit Michigan State University Extension.

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