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Experts warn of keeping kids, pets in hot cars

Vehicles could increase 40 degrees in temperature in the hot sun
Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 6:58 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - With the hotter temperatures here in the Stateline, it’s important to be aware of who’s in your car before you lock it.

“There’s so many things getting our attention these days that we’re all scatterbrained sometimes,” said North Park Fire Chief Joel Hallstrom.

Distractions all around the vehicle can cause drivers to lose focus, but at the temperatures rise into the 90s this weekend, experts hope you pay closer attention...especially to any children or pets in your car.

“I would caution people to never leave their dog in the vehicle even with the windows cracked. something even 15-20 minutes may be enough for the dog to start becoming endangered and overheat,” said Winnebago County Animal Services Officer Mark Johnson.

The main reason is drivers leave their kids and pets in the car with the engine off and the windows rolled up. Hallstrom said on a 70 degree day, your vehicle could heat up to 110 degrees within an hour.

“Even ten minutes in an environment that’s that hot with no air movement, a child can be unconscious in ten minutes it doesn’t take long for something bad to happen, and you can get to a moment where the child or your pet can’t recover,” said Hallstrom.

Studies show an average of 38 children and hundreds of pets die each year because they are left in a locked and oven-like vehicle. First responders say in order to prevent this, it takes a village and concerned citizens shouldn’t be afraid to act quickly.

“If you’re a bystander and you see it don’t be afraid to say something... make that call,” said Hallstrom.

Despite our love for pets, it’s important to put their safety first and not that that risk.

“Sometimes we treat our pets to the point where we need them to come everywhere with us. but if we love them as must as we think we do, there’s days of the year where they shouldn’t be with us because its too hot to do so. it’s just not safe,” said Hallstrom.

State’s Attorney J Hanley says Illinois does have criminal penalties for endangering kids and pets such as leaving them in a locked car. Endangering a pet in a vehicle is a Class C Misdemeanor and it’s a Class A Misdemeanor for a child.

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