Many parts of the world are facing abnormally high temperatures this summer, but heat in the southern and western United States is approaching historic levels. Temperatures well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit will stretch all the way to the Pacific Northwest this weekend, where such heat is 40 degrees above normal. There isn't a better time to remind people the dangers of leaving children and pets in hot cars, even for just a few minutes.
That's exactly what Ford is doing in a new demonstration of just how hot a car can get relative to the temperatures outside. It doesn't take extreme heat to turn the interior into an oven, as the above video from Ford's testing center in Germany demonstrates. A Ford Focus was parked in 95-degree heat, with ice sculptures representing a small child and a dog nestled inside. In less than 20 minutes, temperatures inside the car soared to 122 degrees F (50 degrees C) while the outside temperature remained constant. You can probably guess what happened to the ice sculptures.
The reminder comes at a time when pet ownership is way up. Many people adopted new furry family members during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such, some may not realize just how fast this kind of heat can kill. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), excessive heat in a vehicle can kill a dog in just six minutes. Infants and young children in car seats are also at extreme risk, as they can overheat three to five times faster than an adult. Tragically, there are 39 deaths on average in the US each year as a result of being left in a hot vehicle.
Gallery: Ford Ice Sculptures Demonstrating Heat In Cars
Many automakers – Ford included – now offer some sort of rear-seat occupant alert that can remind drivers of either a child or a dog in the back seat. But it's a relatively new option in the automotive realm, and with the average age of cars on the road now over 12 years, most vehicles don't offer this second level of safety. That means it falls to us to not forget our loved ones in the back, or worse, leave them there intentionally.