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Not even for a minute

Ever wonder what’s it’s like to be a child or a dog in a hot car? The solution is simple: On the next sunny day this week, just put yourself in a vehicle, keeping a window or two open only a crack. If you’re feeling brave, keep them rolled up tight.

Don’t turn on the ignition to start the air conditioning. Just sit there and wait and wait and wait, all the while imagining you are hoping someone will come to turn on the air conditioning, maybe bring some water.

With that in mind, the beginning of the summer heat is as good a time as any to plead that you do not leave youngsters, pets or even seniors waiting in cars while you pop in “for just a minute” to shop. That minute can turn into several, and many more if you’re distracted by a sale or meet a friend.

According to www.kidsandcars.org, one study shows that a car parked in the sun for one hour on a 100-degree day can bring the temperature up to 116 inside, with the seats at 123, the steering wheel at 127 and the dashboard at 157. There’s no meaningful relief in the shade, as the cabin becomes 100, seats 105, the wheel 107 and the dash 118.

Either way, the study concluded, it was hot enough to kill children.

Kidsandcars.org collects a grim set of statistics about children who die in car-related incidents that don’t take place on public streets. The most common of these incidents include children who are run over in a driveway or parking lot, and children who are — intentionally or unintentionally — left in a hot car.

Just last year, heatstroke in a vehicle killed 43 children in the United States, according to kidsandcars.org. Their data show at least 853 children have died in this manner since vehicles were invented.

Many of these children were left behind in the vehicle by accident. Some could have been left “just for a few minutes.” Others could have been playing hide-and-seek, got in the car and couldn’t get themselves out.

Any way you look at it, these are preventable tragedies. So follow these tips:

Never intentionally leave your child in the car, even if it’s “just for a minute.”

Keep your car locked when not in use, so the kids can’t get in while playing.

And please, even if you think it can’t happen to you, take steps to prevent unintentionally leaving your child in the car. Get in the habit of putting your purse, a shoe, your cellphone, or some other needed item in the backseat, so you will always have to turn around and get it — whether your child is there or not. Most of these incidents happen when there is a change in routine — the parent who doesn’t usually drop the child off is supposed to drop them off, for instance. So when there is a change in routine, be extra vigilant and ask your spouse and the child’s care providers to check in.