Tuesday, July 19, 2011


With the majority of the country under an Excessive Heat Warning, Red Flag Warning or hazardous weather outlook it will be ridiculously hot in the days ahead. This week's severe heat wave will likely set new records in the burn zone as daytime temps in more than 40 states are expected to crest the mid-90s -- or higher! Once the humidity is factored in, it will feel like it's somewhere between 105 and 110 degrees out there. Hello summer!

Weather extremes have been the unfortunate norm lately: record winter snowfalls, severe spring rainstorms, floods and tornado warnings have now given way to scorching heat. The damage to crops, real estate and the economy is brutal, but it pales when compared to the loss of life inflicted by these events. Adding to death tolls from this winter's and spring's weather events, it's expected at least 200 more people will perish on account of this summer's oppressive heat. Both the elderly and the very young face increased risk this time of year. And what's more tragic -- and more avoidable -- than the death of a child left alone in a car while his or her responsible party runs an errand?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "a locked car sitting in the summer sun quickly turns into an oven, with temperatures climbing from 78 degrees to 100 degrees in just three minutes and to 125 degrees in 6-8 minutes." Children's body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult's, and it only takes a core body temperature of 107 degrees to prove deadly. A young child can perish in a very short time locked in a hot car. And that goes for pets too.

Men, weather warnings and heat-index ratings are given to protect life and minimize injuries. There have been so many warnings this past year we might be starting to downplay or even ignore their severity. We do so at our peril. In this world where alarms of all sorts are increasingly common, be sure to stay sharp to the realities of a blistering summer sun and the suffocating heat that can build up inside a car in only a few minutes -- even with the windows cracked.

Men, I cannot imagine what it would be like to cause the death of a child who has been left to suffer in a hot car. I would not want anybody to endure that loss. Think about the life of that kid who's riding with you. Probably the last thing on his or her mind is their personal safety.

For that, they're counting on you.

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