PEORIA, Ill. — In the United States so far this year, 20 kids have died after being left in hot cars.
In 2018, a 20-year record high of 52 kids died from heatstroke after becoming trapped.
And it only takes a few minutes.
“Cars can heat up well over 100 degrees in just a matter of minutes,” said Becky Spencer, director of Peoria County Animal Protection Services.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in 10 minutes, the temperature in a car can increase by 20 degrees.
“You should never, ever leave a child unattended in a car,” says Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell.
For parents and pet owners, summertime creates dangerous conditions in cars.
“No amount of cracking the windows or opening the windows is gonna help out,” said Spencer.
Sheriff Asbell says many cases are accidental. But, that doesn’t change the consequences.
“These are unintended. These are simply where the parents or caregiver forgets the child’s in the car. They’re in a hurry, they run into the store for a second, but that’s as long as it takes,” says Asbell.
Spencer agrees that animals are often brought on car rides as an outing.
“Often times it’s good intentions. The pets are excited, they want to go for a ride, but we as caretakers have to know better and know that it’s not safe for them,” says Spencer.
They say if you see something, your first step should be to call 911.
“It takes only a matter of minutes for a child to suffer a heat related illness due to the extreme heat inside vehicles,” says Asbell.
In extreme cases, he says you may need to break a window.
“If you can tell the child’s not breathing or the pet’s not breathing. That’s a whole different level, or if they’re distressed,” says Asbell.
Looking in the back seat before leaving the car or using visual reminders can help prevent dangerous situations.
“Leave yourself a reminder. Put something in the car. Put your cell phone in the back of the car, you shouldn’t have it up front with you anyway,” said Asbell.
As temperatures rise, these reminders can make the difference between life and death.