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Scorching alert: NYS Consumer Protection Division urges vigilance to prevent child, pet heatstroke

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As the mercury rises across New York State, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is issuing a critical warning to all residents about the grave dangers posed by leaving children and pets in hot vehicles. With summer temperatures continuing to climb, Secretary of State Walter T. Mosley underscores the urgency of this life-saving message: “As temperatures continue to rise this week and throughout the summer, I urge all New Yorkers to remember these life-saving tips and remain attentive when getting in and out of your car because just a simple mistake or a few minutes’ time can put your loved one in serious danger.”

Heatstroke in vehicles is a fatal risk that has claimed the lives of 1,083 children nationwide since 1990, including 15 in New York State. Similarly, pets are at significant risk, with 163 animal heat-related deaths reported in 2023 and 855 rescues from hot cars, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The severity of the situation cannot be overstated: even on a mild 60-degree day, a parked car can reach a scorching 105 degrees within an hour.

The most common scenario for these tragic incidents is when an adult unintentionally forgets a quiet or sleeping child or pet in the backseat. Additionally, children can accidentally lock themselves in cars while playing, creating a potentially deadly situation if they are not discovered quickly.

Urgent Safety Tips to Protect Children:

Never Leave Unattended: Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, even with windows slightly open.

Immediate Action: If you see a child in a hot car, call 911 immediately and follow the operator’s instructions.

Education: Teach children about the dangers of playing in or around vehicles and the importance of alerting an adult if they see another child in a car.

Memory Aids: Place essential items like your phone or purse next to your child’s car seat as a reminder to check the backseat. Consider moving a stuffed toy from the seat to the front as a visual cue.

Drive-Through Convenience: Use drive-through services where possible to avoid leaving the child in the car.

Recognize Symptoms: Be aware of heatstroke symptoms such as absence of sweat, confusion, flushed skin, and rapid or shallow breathing.

Essential Safety Tips for Pets

No Unattended Pets: Never leave a pet in a car, regardless of whether windows are open or water is left inside.

Vulnerable Animals: Recognize that young, overweight, senior animals, and those with short muzzles or thick coats are especially prone to overheating.

Emergency Response: If you spot a pet in a hot car, call 911 without delay.

Identify Heatstroke: Symptoms in pets include heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of coordination.

Division of Consumer Protection Services

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection offers mediation services between consumers and businesses.

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