Child in a hot car—timeline

Spun off from this thread. Assuming the perfect storm—hot, not warm day (90°+ F), car parked in direct sunlight, all windows rolled all the way up, no AC running, infant or child restrained in seat. How long until death? How long until irreversible neurological damage? Bottom line—should you just break the window and ask questions later, or should you try to summon first responders? How much time do you really have? Let’s assume that you have some means of knowing exactly how long the car has been parked, perhaps based on an eyewitness who saw the driver leave the vehicle three minutes prior to your arrival and enter a Walmart or other big-box store, or some other structure which would render immediate location problematic.

I’d break the window, call 911, and apologize later

I wouldn’t even apologize for breaking the window- a normal parent would be thanking me , not looking for an apology.

I agree—quite frankly, I see no need for apologies.

I read an article recently about a retired cop who drives around car parks in summer, checking all the cars for dogs and kids. He immediately breaks the window if there is a child or a dog inside. That’s just what he does with his days, whenever it gets hot. I think he dealt with it once, as a cop. Hero.

That’s interesting—do you think you could find it again?

I’ll see, but it’ll be in Dutch!

Here’s a link to the National Weather Service-NOAA site, with an animation availableor a series of jpegs that illustrate the heat inside a car in the sun on an 80F day.

10 min = 99F
20 min = 109F
30 min = 114F
60 min = 123F

90+ outside would be much worse, so yeah, break the window, call 911, and deal with questions later.

Sorry, I can’t find it. (Just lots of sad news reports :frowning: ) I think it was in a local paper.

I did find a Dutch forum where they discussed the topic, and mentioned several laws that mean you are definitely allowed to break a window, also for a pet. I presume it will be the same in other places.

Those figures seem comparable to this 1995 New Orleans study Taking the starting point as the ambient temparature it was about 95F. Interior temp topped out at 138-140F after 40 minutes.

This study also seems to agree…

I’m shocked at how fast this rises and even at 73 degrees the temp gets over 110 in less than an hour.

Article also mentions that it is not really known how long & what temperatures:

It also mentions that children dehydrate & heat up faster than adults.

I’m not surprised in the least. Have you never sat in a car with closed windows and no air conditioning in the summer for even a minute or two?

Not really - usually I’m going somewhere - so I’m gone for a bit. I’m sure I have, but I love the AC! So if I’m stopped - it’s still running. I don’t think of 73 degrees as the summer. I would have thought it had to be mid 80s or higher to get up over 100.

My car has a solar powered ventilation system, so I’m lucky nowadays. I used to use one of those windshield reflectors or whatever they are called, but I thought it was mostly the steering wheel that was overly hot. I obviously knew the car got too hot, but I figured it was 105 - 110 or something.

I guess I never really thought about it in detail - apparently enough to get the solar powered ventilation system and windshield cover - but not enough to realize the actual temperature - just that it was HOT.

I certainly have. I’ve also opened a car after it has been sitting in the hot sun for an extended period of time, and the blast of heated air that comes out of it is sufficiently hot to painfully burn the inside of your nostrils. When you live in Southern California, you quickly learn to open the door and turn your head away from the initial gust, and to wait at least ten seconds before you carefully slide into the vehicle. I can’t even begin to imagine how uncomfortable it would be to be trapped inside the vehicle under those conditions. I’ve printed out the AAP paper and will read it tonight, but right now I’m comfortable in saying that if the child were exhibiting any visible signs of distress whatsoever, I would break the window and call 911.

We get a couple of these 9-1-1 calls each year and have no problem sending a police officer who will break the window if needed. These are treated as very high priority incidents (same priority level as an armed robbery). This is a tropical location and these cars get very hot very fast.

That alone pretty much clinches it for me. Does it get the same priority if it’s an animal inside the vehicle, as opposed to a human?

I hope so. Both are helpless creatures who can’t roll the windows down.

We don’t have separate categories for an animal lock-in and child lock-in.

A child lock-in call is a priority 1, higher priority than a domestic violence call, priority 2. In theory this means we would divert an officer who was already responding to a domestic violence call in order to deal with a child lock-in, assuming no other officers were available and/or the diverting officer is that much closer to the lock-in incident.

We would be less likely to divert an officer for a pet locked in a hot car. Humans first, I’m afraid.

WTF? You seriously believe law enforcement should put the same priority to a dog as a child?

I hope you never have to chose between your dog and your kid, but if it comes to that, I hope its not much of a dilemma.