TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Look before you lock! It’s a phrase you’ve likely heard before and it’s a good one to remember as we prepare to head into a long stretch of dangerously hot weather.
Heat continues to be the leader when it comes to weather related deaths in the United States. Flooding comes in second place and is another weather phenomenon we have to pay close attention to when monsoon arrives. For now, let’s focus on heat.
Sadly, we continue to see far too many child deaths as a result of being left in vehicles that become too hot for a child to survive. According to NoHeatStroke.org, from 1998 to 2020, Arizona recorded 42 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths. As you might expect, the most deaths occurred in the southern states. Texas ranked first, followed by Florida and California.
Heat rapidly increases inside a vehicle even when the outside temperatures don’t seem too hot. San Jose State University conducted an experiment and came up with some interesting results. Scientists measured the temperature change inside a vehicle over the course of an hour. What they found really drives home the point of the phrase Look Before You Lock!
Even at 70°, the temperature inside the vehicle climbed to over 100° in just 30 minutes. Crank the heat up to 110° and the temperature soars to over 140° in 30 minutes and over 150° in an hour!
Scientists even conducted the experiment with the windows cracked open to see if that would make a big difference. Temperatures only dropped about 3° with the windows cracked open.
Paying attention to your surroundings is vitally important when extreme heat arrives. If you have small children, make sure to check the back seat before running into the store. If you have pets, leave them at home if you plan on going places that don’t allow pets on premises.
It sounds so simple, but many of us live busy lives and can become easily distracted. When we get distracted, accidents happen. One death is too many and we still have a long way to go. Fortunately, newer vehicles have alert systems when weight is detected in the back seat. Even with this technology, we still must do our part to make sure we don’t make a mistake.
Paying attention to our surroundings also includes being aware of when dangerous conditions may occur so we can make plans to avoid mistakes in the first place. When extreme heat is on the way, the National Weather Service will issue heat watches and warnings. Knowing the difference between a watch and a warning will help you plan accordingly.
As we enter this stretch of extreme heat, think about the things you can do to avoid a tragedy. Adjusting your plans, being prepared and paying attention to your surroundings could save your own life or the life of a loved one. The First Warning weather team will be here to keep you informed on all the latest weather updates to keep you prepared.