A second in degrees

Published 5:08 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A late spring combined with plenty of rain over the last few weeks has kept higher temperatures at a minimum this summer — or at least, so far. But for the past few days, we’ve watched the mercury climb to normal July levels.

We know how to keep ourselves cool during the summer onslaught. Our pets, however, do not, particularly if they’re left in a parked car, if only for a few minutes.

Recently, a veterinarian name Dr. Ernie Ward performed an experiment in which he videoed himself sitting in a parked car for 30 minutes, just to get a feel for how hot the car got and what confined pets may feel in the same position. All four windows of the car were cracked between three and five inches and a breeze was blowing outside.

When Ward started his experiment, it was already 94 degrees inside the vehicle. At five minutes, the temperature had climbed to 99 degrees. At 10 minutes, it was 106 degrees inside his vehicle; at 20, 110 degrees. By the time half an hour had crawled by, the thermometer read 116 degrees. Ward started out calling the environment inside the vehicle “stifling” and “oppressive.” His description quickly changed to “unbearable” and “awful,” with him finally declaring, “The only thought in my head is ‘I want out of this car.’”

The point he made was that cracked windows won’t alleviate the heat and even a strong breeze won’t matter — inside a parked car, an animal can’t stay cool.

At the end of Ward’s 30 minutes, his veterinary scrubs were soaked with sweat, which is the human body’s way to prevent overheating. He points out that animals don’t have the luxury of perspiring to cool themselves down.

Whether a pet is left in a car for 10 minutes or half an hour, it’s at risk. So remember that “I’ll just be a second” doesn’t cut it when it comes to the safety of your pets.