MEDFORD, Ore. -- In 2018, 30 children in the U.S. have died because they were left in a hot car. On average, authorities see 37 cases per year and with plenty of potential for high heat across the country, 2018 is on track to be the deadliest year for hot car-related deaths. That information is from Kids and Cars, which is an awareness group fighting for legislation to protect children from vehicle dangers. This is the same groups responsible for trunk release buttons and backup cameras on all new vehicles.
Members of Kids and Cars says the inside of a car can reach more than 125 degrees. Children can die from heat stroke at car temperatures as low as 60 degrees. A child's body can overheat three to five times faster than an adult body.
But the awareness for heat stroke doesn't stop at kids, authorities also warn drivers about pet safety. Pets are just as susceptible to heat stroke as humans. Medford PetSmart associate lead manager Gary Richardson has his employees check the parking lot for kids and animals every half hour.
"It does not take long for a car to heat up, for a dog to get dehydrated," said Richardson. "So you just need to make sure you never leave them in there. No dog is safe, not even for a couple of minutes."
Authorities say you should contact police if you see a child or pet in distress. You should also see if a parent or owner is nearby. Police say if you are concerned about the immediate safety of a child or pet, an individual can decide whether or not to take action. If a window is broken by a bystander to remove the pet or child, police will determine if the action was necessary.