Dangerous even in Alaska: Leaving kids and pets in cars

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Officials stress that, yes, even in Alaska, vehicular heatstroke is a very real danger for children and pets.

In 2018, 52 children died in hot cars, according to the National Safety Council. It was the deadliest year on record for the past two decades.

“A vehicle's temperature can actually heat up 19 degrees in a 10 minute period,” said Sara Penisten Turcic with Safe Kids Alaska. “So children, unfortunately, die every year after being left in hot vehicles and we would like to prevent that here in Alaska.”

Luckily, a child death due to vehicular heatstroke hasn’t happened yet. But it could. Cases have been documented of children dying in cars with temperatures as low as the 50s outside.

Veterinarian Jon Basler from College Village Animal Clinic in Anchorage wants to remind people that it’s not just kids you need to worry about.

“Dogs and cats are furred and don’t have sweat glands,” Basler said. “They only sweat with their paws. They pant which only goes so far when it’s really, really hot.”

Basler said that he sees heat stroke animal cases mostly from animals who have been very active on a warmer day like hiking or running with owners.

Penisten Turcic said that if you see a child left alone in a car, to call 911.

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