How quickly can dangerous heat set in inside a hot car?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We don’t have to tell you hot it is outside – you can feel it – but that heat can be dangerous, especially for pets and children.

Cars, especially, can heat up quickly and pose a deadly threat.

“The heat inside of these cars can grow much quicker than people think,” said Lt. Robert Arguelles, with Bernalillo County Fire Rescue.

For children and pets, being left inside a hot car can turn tragic – fast.

“It’s super easy for smaller infants. They don’t have the best opportunities and ways to regulate their body temperature that we do. They quickly become overwhelmed by that heat and the same goes for our four-legged friends,” Lt. Arguelles said.

“Small humans and animals will easily succumb to high temperatures inside a vehicle right away,” he added.

With the help of Lt. Arguelles, we saw just how quickly that dangerous heat sets in. Even with temperatures in the high-80s, the car’s temperature rose to just over 120° in a matter of minutes.

After 11 minutes, we were sweating a lot. We even felt tired, which is something Dr. Jaren Trost, with Optum New Mexico, says isn’t uncommon when kids experience heat stroke.

“Lethargy – fatigue – so if you notice that your baby is acting differently, very fussy, not making eye contact, not being themselves that’s when you know that it heat stroke,” Dr. Trost explained.

We soon called it quits after around 14-15 minutes. While we were fine, that time can turn deadly for children and pets.

If you see a pet or child alone in a car, be sure to call 911 right away. Also, if you feel like you may forget, try setting your purse or something essential in the backseat with them so you don’t leave them in the hot car.