Kids, Pets In Hot Cars Can Turn Deadly

Today is the hottest day in Tyler so far this summer. With temperatures topping 90 degrees outside, the temperature inside your car can be more than dangerous. It can be deadly. Children and pets die each year because they are left in hot cars. Overheating in a car is still the number one way a child dies in connection with automobiles.

We went to a store parking lot in Tyler today and found many moms taking their children with them to go shopping.

"I'd rather just take them with me and have to deal with the hassle than leave them in the 100-degree heat inside the car," Carol Zamara, a mother of three, said.

The same was true for other parents, like Lisa Breedlove, with her five kids in tow. It was 91 degrees for much of the afternoon. We left our thermometer inside the Breedlove's van to see how hot it would get while they went inside Target.

Inside the van, the temperature rose rapidly. In fact, after just five minutes, it was already up to 118 degrees.

As the minutes ticked by and Lisa continued shopping, the temperature inside her van continued rising. After 25 minutes, Lisa and her kids came out. We checked our thermometer, and it had maxed out at more than 120 degrees.

"It's really surprising," Breedlove said. "I didn't realize it got that hot in here."

Her kids agreed: "Yes, really hot."

Experts say temperatures can easily top 140 degrees in just 40 minutes.

But it's not just children you have to worry about. It can be just as dangerous to leave your pets in a hot car, especially ones with longer fur and smaller noses.

"I really wouldn't bring my dog with me, unless you're going to come to a store like Petsmart, where you can bring your dog in," Judy Gregg, senior dog trainer at Petsmart in Tyler, said.

But even Petsmart has seen customers leave their dogs in the car while they go inside. Just in the last four days, "we've had three incidents where people have left their dogs in their cars," Gregg said.

Dogs can suffer heat stroke in just 15 minutes.

"See, panting to get cool," Deborah Hamburg, a dog owner, said.

"Even with the window cracked, it still gets over 100 degrees in there," Gregg said.

And even tinted windows and shade only reduce the heat minimally.

Aside from the dangers of leaving your children and pets inside hot cars, it's also against the law. Texas law makes it illegal to leave a child younger than seven in a car without being supervised by someone 15 or older. And leaving pets in hot cars can be considered cruelty to animals.

If you spot a child or pet left in a hot car, you're asked to call police or the fire department.

Julie Tam, reporting.