Summer is finally here as most of the UK has started basking in the glorious sunshine. But with the sunshine comes heat, which can be extremely dangerous for children or pets left in a car whilst you pop into the shop (even just for two minutes), however tempting. It can lead to heat stroke which can damage the brain and other organs, and even result in death.
Whilst there are regular warnings about this posted online and advertised on TV, we continue to see this happen. The temperature inside a car can increase 20 degrees in just 10 minutes (and to above 60 degrees celsius!). Many think that it’s safe if the window is left open just a little, but unfortunately this doesn’t prevent the temperature from rising to dangerous levels.
If you notice a parked vehicle on a warm sunny day that has a child or pet inside, it’s important that you take the below steps right away.
1. Notify shop security or business managers nearby
The managers or security staff at the nearby shop or business might be able to put an announcement out calling for the owner of the car to return to their vehicle immediately.
2. Alert emergency services
Whilst you are doing the above, get another member of the public to contact the police (and even an ambulance or the RSPCA if you can see that a child or pet is in danger or distress).
3. Wait for help if possible
Unless you can see that the animal or child is in immediate danger, wait for help. Your instinct might be to break into the vehicle, but this could be classed as criminal damage, so be careful. Legally, you can damage the car if you believe the owner would consent if they knew their pet or child was in danger (which most people would, right?).
There’s no specific law against leaving your pet or child unattended in the car, however if it places them at risk you could be prosecuted. We just need to use our common sense and think about what we’re doing. If it’s a warm day, it really isn’t sensible to leave your child or pet in the car. It can take just a few minutes for the temperature to get dangerous.
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