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Parking outside? Check for stuff… and children

Key Takeaway: Parking outside, even in relative coolness, can turn your car into a furnace with the sun shining on it. The risk of heatstroke greatly increases, so always be mindful if you have children and pets traveling with you in the car. Also be mindful of your things that can perish in extreme heat, such as foodstuffs. Especially this summer, be conscious of this!

Public Domain Pictures
Public Domain Pictures

As we start a new week, the infernal heat of summer – summer in the tropics at least – is still upon us, and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, typhoons notwithstanding. Keep yourself hydrated well, especially when humidity’s rising – higher humidity actually makes it harder for us to cool ourselves down because the sweat on our bodies doesn’t go away as easily. Heatstroke is dangerous and potentially lethal.

But, humidity or not, sheer infernal heat can be deadly – summer or not summer – especially if cars are involved.

In 2012, five-month old Bella Poole died of heatstroke after her mother Jayde neglected to retrieve her from the backseat baby bassinet after she parked her car, as she and another of her children went to a food outlet. The temperature that day was 30 degrees Celsius – cold for Philippine summer standards. However, though the outdoors temperature may be relatively low, a car parked in direct sunlight traps heat inside, and thus the temperature is much higher than that outside – even with a 21 degree Celsius day, already quite cool, cars can still reach as high as 49 degrees Celsius with sunlight. What more when it’s summer in the tropics?

Because heat is trapped inside, even with partially-opened windows, the risk of heatstroke is still very high. Pets are at far greater risk than people, because they don’t sweat like we do in order to cool themselves. So, it is crucially important, especially for individuals traveling alone with their young child – or even an elderly parent – to never forget to check the car after parking. There have been actual cases of parents forgetting their children were in their cars – and, worse, parents thinking that the car wouldn’t get hot enough for heatstroke to strike. This latter thought is a grave error in judgment.

It doesn’t apply to just people and animals. Even your things can get destroyed in intense heat. For example, plastic warps in the face of heat. Gadgets and devices exposed to heat may go haywire. And food, especially, will go rotten when its environment is really hot, even if it itself is hot – something to note when you’re including the grocery or a take-out restaurant in your errands. Ideally, of course, you would take these things with you. But if you really need to leave them in the car, place them in relatively cool areas – where no sunlight will hit them.

This would be an exercise in consciousness – the conscious mind is aware of and sensitive to things around them, not lost in their own thoughts so much they lose track of things, which can have irreversible effects as in the unfortunate case of Jayde Poole. Make an effort to practice consciousness and save lives and stuff this summer.

Happy Monday!

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