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Editorial: Danger in hot vehicles

With temperatures reaching into the 90s marking the official arrival of summer this week, a warning from the AAA Mid-Atlantic about the danger of leaving children or pets unattended in cars was a timely reminder.

According to the AAA Mid-Atlantic, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics indicate that heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children younger than 14. The agency reports at least 27 documented deaths per year.

In a press release, Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic said, "It's important to remember that temperatures inside a car on a day with outside temperatures in the mid-to-high 90s can quickly soar to nearly 200 degrees, which is hot enough to cook many foods and to kill most living things. Never leave children or pets in a parked car."

AAA also advises parents to take additional precautions, such as making a habit of looking in the front and back of the vehicle before locking the door. If you have a purse, briefcase or some other item that you will be needing, put it in the back so that you'll have to retrieve it when you stop. Instances of parents becoming preoccupied or distracted and forgetting that a child is in the car happen often, and in the hot summer months that can lead to deadly results.

Parents should also keep vehicles locked while they are at home, and never let children play in unattended vehicles.

Care should also be taken with pets. Even cracking the window open does not provide enough relief when the temperatures are soaring and the sun is beating down on a parked vehicle.

If, in your travels, you come across a child or pet in an unattended vehicle, Averella has some explicit advice: "If you do see a child or pet locked in a car and cannot find the owner of the vehicle, call 911 immediately."

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