New England weather

The ‘Greenhouse Effect' and Why It's So Dangerous to Leave Kids or Pets in a Hot Car

We have the strongest sun angle of the year in New England this weekend and those sun’s direct rays go in through the car windows

File-NBC 5 News

Temperatures are really heating up again this weekend as highs are forecast to hit the 80s and 90s.  The heat poses many dangers to us, including extremely hot vehicles. 

We have the strongest sun angle of the year and those sun’s direct rays go in through the car windows.  We in turn have the "Greenhouse Effect." The shortwave radiation from the sun goes through the car's glass windows and the energy is absorbed by the interior (dash, seats, etc.). It is then radiated out as heat.  The longwave radiation cannot get through the car windows so the heat builds, and it builds fast. 

Outside temperature of 80:

10 minutes, 99 degrees inside the car
20 minutes, 109 degrees inside the car
30 minutes, 114 degrees inside the car
40 minutes, 118 degrees inside the car
60 minutes, 123 degrees inside the car

Outside temperature of 90:

10 minutes, 104 degrees inside the car
20 minutes, 119 degrees inside the car
30 minutes 124 degrees inside the car
40 minutes, 128 degrees inside the car
60 minutes, 133 degrees inside the car

This kind of heat is deadly, and that’s why you should never leave children or pets inside a car -- even for a quick minute.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 23 children died of vehicular heatstroke in 2021.

Keep in mind, rolling the windows down also does not cool off the parked car enough. Even leaving the air conditioning running is dangerous if the child or pet is alone in the car as they can accidentally turn it off or put the car in gear.

When the temperatures begin to rise, it's important to know what you should and shouldn't do to keep you and your loved ones safe. Here are some tips.
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