Summer temperatures in the St. Louis region bring heat-related dangers to both children and pets. In 2019, seven children nationwide have lost their lives to heatstroke while inside a vehicle. Last year, 52 children throughout the United States, including four in Missouri, died as a result of heatstroke. The City of St. Louis Department of Health is urging people caring for young children or pets to be mindful as temperatures begin to rise.
Heatstroke occurs when the body’s temperature climbs above 103°F. Other signs of heat stroke include hot, red, dry, or damp skin; a fast, strong pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and losing consciousness.
“Children up to four years old are one of the most vulnerable groups who are at the greatest risk of heatstroke,” says Dr. Fredrick L. Echols, director of health for the City of St. Louis. “It’s important to remember to look in the backseat before you lock your car doors when arriving at your destination, especially if the normal routine regarding your child’s school or daycare drop-off has changed.”
Pets left in cars are also susceptible to heat-related deaths. The American Veterinary Medical Association says hundreds of pets die every year from heat exhaustion because the pets are left in parked vehicles. In only 10 minutes, the temperature inside a car could rise by 20°F, and continue to increase as more time passes.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says the pets most at risk for overheating include: young, overweight, elderly, pets with short muzzles, and those with thick or dark-colored fur.
If you see a child or an animal in distress inside a vehicle, call the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department at (314) 231-1212.
Department of Health
Immunizations and Public Health