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'Look Before You Lock': don't forget kids, pets in a hot car

In a matter of minutes, the interior temperature skyrockets above the exterior temperature.

ATLANTA — An average of 38 children in the United States die in hot cars each year from heatstroke, according to KidsAndCars.Org. It's a significant yet preventable public health risk.

The science behind the quickly rising temperatures is a red flag to parents of why it's so critical to stay aware and always check the back seat before leaving their car. 

How quickly the interior temperatures soar comes down to the greenhouse effect. A closed car not only brings in heat from the radiating sun, but the heat inside the car is trapped and cannot escape. This is why the temperatures rise so quickly.

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So just how quickly?

With the car turned off, windows down; if the outside temperature is 85 degrees, in a matter of 10 minutes, the temperature climbs to 104 degrees. After 20 minutes have elapsed, the temperature inside jumps to 114 degrees. Jump to 30 minutes after the clock starts; it's 119 degrees inside the car. And after an hour, it's a stifling 128 degrees.

Credit: WXIA

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Atlanta's average monthly high temperatures in May are around 80 degrees, but by the doldrums of summer in July, it climbs to 90 degrees.

On days when it reaches 90 degrees, a locked car's inside will jump to 133 degrees after an hour.

According to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration, a child left in a hot car could die within a matter of minutes. When their core body temperature reaches 104, heatstroke begins. They add that when a child's core body temperature reaches 107 degrees, they can die. Twenty-three children in the United States died of vehicular heatstroke in 2021.

If you're a pet owner, also be wary of this! Do not leave your pets in a hot car either.

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