Make sure to check the backseat: Unified Fire Authority says heat can pose a danger to children in just a matter of minutes

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MIDVALE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Fourteen children have died in the United States this year either because they were left or became trapped in a parked car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

While no incidents in Utah have happened this year, Unified Fire Authority officials remind parents about the danger.

Ryan Love, a UFA spokesperson, said the heat can pose a danger to children in just a matter of minutes.

“A normal, parked car with the windows up, the keys out, the ignition not running, can heat up 20 degrees in just two minutes,” Love said. “So, if your car is already 70 or 80 degrees, it can be well over 100 in just two minutes. And then every minute after that, it grows exponentially.”

Love continues to say if a child is either locked or trapped in a vehicle – within minutes – they can have life-altering complications, as a child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult.

“A child, if their internal temperature reaches 104 degrees, can start having organ failure or organ damage,” Love said. “At 107 degrees, that becomes fatal.”

UFA conducted their own car temperature experiment and said that when outside temperatures range from 80 to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car can quickly climb between 130 to 170 degrees.  

For parents with children, Love shares some advice:

“Do your best. Make sure your car is locked. Make sure you’re paying attention to them in the backseat. Life happens, distractions happen,” Love said.

If you see a child left unattended in a car, the NHTSA said to make sure the child is OK and responsive. If not, call 9-1-1 for help. 

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