The Risks Involved in Leaving a Child or Pet in a Locked Car

Leaving a child or pet in a locked car can be dangerous, as the temperature inside a vehicle can rise rapidly and lead to heatstroke, dehydration, and even death. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 38 children die each year due to being left in a hot car. Additionally, studies have revealed that even on mild days, the temperature inside a locked car can reach lethal levels within minutes. Leaving a pet inside a locked car can also be equally harmful and can cause overheating, dehydration, and suffocation.

The Law Surrounding Leaving a Child or Pet in a Locked Car

The law surrounding leaving a child or a pet in a locked car varies from state to state and country to country. Some states have explicit laws that prohibit leaving a child or pet in a car unattended, while others have no specific laws in place. In the United States, 21 states have laws that prohibit leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. However, only 15 states have similar laws that protect pets from being left unattended in a car.

In California, for instance, it is illegal to leave a child who is six years old or younger in a vehicle except under specific circumstances, such as if the keys are not in the ignition, or a person who is 12 years or older is in the vehicle. The state also prohibits leaving a pet inside a vehicle under circumstances that expose the animal to severe hot or cold temperatures. Violations of these regulations can result in fines, imprisonment, or both. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, animal welfare legislation makes it an offense to leave an animal in a hot vehicle where it may suffer harm.

What to Do If You Find a Child or a Pet in a Locked Car

If you come across a child or a pet that has been left unattended in a locked car, it’s crucial to take immediate action. In such situations, the first course of action should be to identify the owner of the vehicle and ask for help or assistance. If you are not able to locate the owner, it’s recommended to call the emergency services immediately. While waiting for help to arrive, try to keep the child or pet cool, by providing them with water or trying to provide shade. If the situation seems critical and the child or pet is showing signs of distress, break the car window as a last resort to free the trapped individual.

Tips for Preventing the Risks of Leaving a Child or Pet in a Locked Car

To prevent any unfortunate situation, you should never leave a child or a pet alone in a locked car, even if it’s for a few minutes. If you have to leave your child or pet in the car, make sure you take them with you or arrange for someone to watch over them. Additionally, set a reminder on your phone or devise a plan by leaving an essential item in the back seat, like your phone, to ensure that you never forget your child or pet in the car.


Leaving a child or a pet in a locked car can cause significant harm and can even lead to severe illness or death. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of the laws surrounding leaving a child or pet unattended in a car and take immediate action to help them in case of an emergency. By following simple tips and taking preventive measures, we can avoid unfortunate situations and protect our loved ones from the harmful effects of leaving them in a locked car.


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