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More than 60 dogs and children have been left unattended in cars in Walmart parking lots on hot days in the last 5 years, and at least eight dogs and two children have died as a result.
Just since May, there have been at least 11 near-death incidences in Walmart parking lots in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, and Virginia, including one in which a 5-year-old boy was found drenched with sweat and was treated for heat exhaustion and another in which three dogs were locked in a car in which the temperature reached 105 degrees. What on Earth?
Dog Peeking | Valerie Everett | CC BY-SA 2.0
Luckily, these latest individuals were all rescued in time, but that won't always be the case. We know that because, already this year, 15 children have died in hot cars. Since 2018, at least 71 animals have died from heat-related causes. This number includes only those incidents reported in the media—so the actual figure is certainly higher.
It doesn't take long for parked vehicles to turn into deadly ovens: On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a car can soar to 100 degrees in just a few minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach 109 degrees in less than 10 minutes. Leaving the windows partially open or parking in the shade won't keep vehicles cool enough to be safe. Heatstroke, damage to organs (including the brain), and death can occur extremely quickly, so it's crucial that neither children nor dogs are ever left in parked cars—even for "just a minute." You can learn more about these life-threatening dangers by watching this short video.
Thank God For AC | Tony Alter | CC BY 2.0
Research shows that visual reminders—such as warning signs—can trigger parts of the brain that are inactive while we're in an "autopilot" mode. Walmart can help prevent tragedies by posting such signs. Please ask Walmart to add hot car warning signs to all store entrances and parking lots.