Officials from the Phoenix Fire Department and the Arizona Humane Society warn residents of the dangers of leaving a child or pet inside a vehicle, especially during Phoenix’s hot summer months.

With scorching temperatures and an increase in number of heat-related injury cases, pets and children are more susceptible to the heat’s health dangers.

“The excuse people have is that it’s ‘just for a few minutes,’” said Phoenix Fire Deputy Chief Frank Salomon, of leaving pets and kids in cars while running errands.

A child’s core temperature can increase three to five times faster than an adult’s when left in a hot vehicle. Like other pets, a dog is also at an increased risk with the inability to sweat or cool down naturally.

Bretta Nelson, of the Arizona Humane Society, said dogs can be injured or die from heat exhaustion in just minutes depending on its size.

When overexposed to heat, or left in a hot vehicle, a dog will go through a process of panting, dehydration, panic, diarrhea, and vomiting before they experience organ failure.

“It’s really a devastating process,” Nelson said.

The internal temperature of a car can rise to 125 degrees in just 20 minutes when the outside temperature is in the 90s, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.

Officer James Holmes, of the Phoenix Police Department, said that 52 percent of children last year who died of hypothermia due to excessive heat, died because parent’s “forgot” about them in the car.

“These are incidents that don’t have to occur,” Salomon said.

• Diana Martinez is freelancing this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach her at

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