A public service announcement on temperature

Dog owners, this might surprise you. Since we deal with temperature a great deal here on WUWT, and since the only canine member of the Union of Concerned Scientists has informed me that he is concerned about this issue, and since we are getting into the hot season here in the northern hemisphere, I thought I’d take a moment to pass on this information as a public service announcement.

From the American Veterinary Medical Association:

Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles. We’ve heard the excuses: “Oh, it will just be a few minutes while I go into the store,” or “But I cracked the windows…” These excuses don’t amount to much if your pet becomes seriously ill or dies from being left in a vehicle.

The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30º F…and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle!

Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn’t seem hot to you. And cracking the windows makes no difference.

Want numbers? An independent study showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96º F rose steadily as time increased. Another study​, performed by the Louisiana Office of Public Health, found that the temperatures in a dark sedan as well as a light gray minivan parked on a hot, but partly cloudy day, exceeded 125oF within 20 minutes.

This study also found that cracking the windows had very little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle. This is definitely a situation where “love ’em and leave ’em” is a good thing. Please leave your pets at home at home when you can…they’ll be safe and happily waiting for you to come home.


And, mostly importantly NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN IN AN UNATTENDED CAR.

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85 thoughts on “A public service announcement on temperature

    • Now all the alarmists have to do is figure out how to surround earth with glass, without us noticing :D

    • I think a fitting punishment for leaving old yeller in the car is to wear a fur coat in a sauna for 30 mins at 90c

    • Ah, but when they repeated the experiment with the car filled with 100% CO2, the dog died before the temperature rose 2 degrees. Ergo, CO2 causes dogs to be more sensitive to changes in temperature.

    • No, a real Greenhouse effect would be if the windows were open by say 10% there would not be a significant temperature drop.
      The Greenhouse effect is a radiative effect .

      The radiative greenhouse effect does not even seem to work for glasshouses (greenhouses) .
      Open the top vent on a greenhouse and the temperature quickly drops.

      The real greenhouse effect is stopping convection

  1. If you leave the dog in the car in warm weather you are a pile of.. that’s putting it mildly. Always a good reminder tho.

    I’d have no qualms about smashing a car window is there was a dog inside, good old visit from Dr Boot

    • My sister posted an advice note from UK Police forces saying if you find a vehicle with a dog in on a hot day take a photo on your phone of the car with dog in if possible with another phone in the picture showing the temp, you can then break a window to free the dog and they will not prosecute you for criminal damage.

      James Bull

      • same in Belgium it is allowed to break a car window if animals or small children are inside of them in hot summer days

      • UNTRUE – police and RSPCA advise to call 999 (emergency) If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away/unable to attend, many people’s instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog.

        If you decide to do this, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, you may need to defend your actions in court.
        see https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/health/dogsinhotcars

    • That is perfectly legal in the UK, if a dog is in distress (not sure in US though!)

  2. Here in Phoenix Arizona, we know this all to well. Every summer, there are several reports of animals/children being left in a vehicle; and some don’t make it . . . I think now there was something passed that even allows a stranger to break the window of a vehicle if locked inside is a pet or child . . .

    • It can happen on January 15th, too, Martin, at least down here.

      In the summer, absolutely no excuse. Just park and turn off your A/C – and you can feel the temperature immediately go up at least ten degrees.

  3. The fact that a white car sitting in the sun gets as hot a a black car next to it is the basic fact , going back to Ritchie’s 1830s experiment , formalized by Kirchhoff and Stewart and others by the 1860s is the central still poorly taught or broadly understood fact which caused me to get diverted into this high stakes brouhaha .

    • The heat gets in through the windows in the main, not the bodywork. That’s why.

      We still prefer white cars in the Australian north and outback, however. In this heat black cars seem stupid.

      • The difference in heating shows between a black can and a shiny reflective metal can, not a black can and a white can because there is little difference in IR absorption between black and white paints. Or so it’s said.

      • Doesn’t matter . The example I learned as a grade school nerd while Al Gore was out on the playground learning how to cadge votes was :

        A black rock and a white rock are sitting in the desert sun . Which gets hotter ?

        To be a bit more exact that a 1950s boy’s science book , the rocks are assumed to be dark and light shades of gray , that is , have flat absorption=emission spectra .

        Unfortunately I see little evidence that even the vast majority of participants on both sides of “debate” understand the answer demonstrated by Ritchie 180 years ago .

      • See my http://cosy.com/Science/warm.htm#PingPong I did when I first moved out here to 2500 meters . Since then my main “contribution” to the discussion is the expression for computation of equilibrium temperature for arbitrary spectra generalizing the computation which produces the endlessly parroted 255k meme .

        Cars in parking lots in hot air are far from an ideal abstraction . But the main point is that radiantly heated gray objects , no matter how light or dark , come to the same equilibrium temperature .

        The black heats faster , which is why it is more of an air conditioner load , but it also cools faster .

    • A Green car is the best. Look at nature. Why do you think plants reflect green light ?

      • In Florida you should stay away from grey. Old people can’t see grey cars because they blend into the pavement.

      • Actually , that’s a good question . Why ? It seems like they are rejecting the most energetic portion of the spectrum . Are there chemistries which can photosynthesize in those bands ?

  4. Thanks for this. Every summer in Florida we have multiple tragedies. Cracked windows do nothing unless there is a stiff breeze. No cool air intake.

  5. I know I asked for RIGOUR before but for this application we entirely accept the RUFF calculations.

  6. My gut told me the difference between white and black cars would be trivial, but experiment (Mythbusters) showed me differently. But regardless, as all have agreed, either can be deadly.

    • Sitting in my black Tahoe (personal vehicle), as opposed to the tan Tahoe (work car), showed me the difference isn’t trivial.

      Although w/o the AC on, the red lexus SC300 seems to get much more uncomfortable than the very dark green lexus SC300 … this one I haven’t figured out.

      (The Tahoe has an extra battery for short term cooling under the the dogs seat … please don’t break my window….)

      • The red Lexus reflects radiation in the lower-energy (red) end of the spectrum and the green mostly in the higher end. Also absorption in the ultraviolet and infrared parts of the spectrum is probably different. And the emissivity might be slightly different too, though cars behave pretty much like a black body in this respect.

  7. I always leave my dogs in the air-conditioned comfort of home. I’d rather be safe, than sorry. When my kids were babies, they were with me, where ever I went. I Love my kids….even the little furry ones! LOL!

    On a different note….when will those awesome chocolate bars be available for delivery to Canada? ;-)

  8. At least we are in for another cool summer with near solar minimum effects on jet stream in NH and stronger, winter-like cold fronts most of the summer.

  9. This is a good example about what happens to the planet Earth and thus, all of us, from CO2 heating it up from sunlight. Only we can’t park the Earth in a shady spot.

    Think I’m kidding. Just ask Dr. David Suzuki. According to Suzuki it’s the carbon in automobile windshields and glass that causes the sunlight to heat up the inside of a car. The carbon in the glass traps the heat.

    Of course I’m kidding. But Suzuki wasn’t. Google it.

    This is how policy is set.

    • Actually, Tom, the dog in the car is the correct exemplar of global warming. Think of the dog exhaling CO2 as the world’s population and the car as the greenhouse. The heat is multiplied exponentially within the greenhouse over time by the exhalation of CO2. The UN just needs to pass a law that stops the population from exhaling. Problem solved.

      (Now all I need is a peer to review this – maybe there’s one in the Royal Society.)

  10. Helps a lot to reduce extreme temperatures in a parked car. But also with this device NEVER let a child or pet inside a closed car.

    • Not all that much (unless you have to park with your front towards the sun). But they do help a lot in not having your plastic console degrade and crack from the UV.

      • They are actually pretty good as most of today’s cars have a long sloping front windscreen which lets the sun onto the dash whichever way tou are pointing. I agree it helps to check the angle of the sun when you park, but these really do keep the steering wheel cool!

  11. Anthony Watts thanks for taking the time to share that, posting a psa is another example of you going above and beyond….

    • Another Scott
      Agree totally.
      A brief reminder is good. Just a reminder.
      Thanks Anthony.

      Auto

  12. With those quoted numbers, they obviously haven’t measured a car interior here in the Arizona desert in June….:^)

    • They only go up to an air temp of 95°. For Arizona in June, you’re lucky if that’s the low.

      …But at least it’s a dry heat. ^¿^

    • With apologies to Sam Clemens: The hottest summer I ever felt was a winter in Phoenix.

  13. Even a relatively small amount of cross ventilation by leaving windows on opposite sides of the car open by even just a couple of inches (don’t want the dog to get out) will drastically reduce heating inside the car.

    • Sorry Matt but I disagree! There needs to be air movement, and in a crowded parking lot you may feel air movement at head level. But the car window is still below the roof line of the other vehicles on the parking lot. Cross ventilation only occurs if no other cars, trees or buildings are calming the air at car window level.
      Ask any veterinarian who has had to deal with the aftermath and calm the owner.

    • Opening a roof panel might have some effect, but only if there is other openings lower in the car so you get effective convection.

    • A couple of inches is more than a crack; such an opening on both sides might actually make a detectable difference (though insufficient for a person or pet locked inside). Those of us who acknowledge the presence and effect of Original Sin know that we must lock our cars in a public lot, or even in transit; further, we know that someone who wants to enter the car can simply unlock it if we leave the windows far enough open for the outside air to make a difference in the inside temperature. Best advice: If a child or baby is with you, take that person into the store with you. If a pet is with you, don’t go into the store.

      • Locking anything only keeps out honest people, someone wants in they will just break the window. Pets and toddlers don’t have that option.

  14. Don’t ride around with a dog loose in your pickup truck bed, either. I just cringe when I see that. I know some dogs know enough to stay in the bed, but some don’t. Some like to jump out and fight with dogs they see along the street, or get thrown out in a minor traffic accident.

    We love dogs. Don’t put them in dangerous situations. They don’t know any better. You should.

    • Of course if you live in cattle country those dogs in the pick up bed are at work. Those dogs know what they are doing don’t cringe too much for them.

      • Agreed. Working dogs ride in the back of the truck. They generally do not bounce from side to side in the truck bed, they rarely if ever jump out and if they get thrown out, they probably will return to the truck. A friend started his dogs as pups riding in the truck bed, fed them there and they often slept there. It was their home. They did not leave it without permission.

        I agree the average pet does not belong in the back of a truck, but working dogs do.

  15. I feel like this situation (car heating up in the sun) should be applicable to the question of if the oceans are warming due to CO2 or the sun, but I’m not sure.

    • Try this experiment. Go to a store and buy a block of “dry ice.” Carry it to the ocean and toss that solid block of CO2 into the water. Measure the temperature of the water. Repeat this procedure 3 times, while having others watch — this makes it a scientific activity. Report your results here as peer reviewed.
      Me? I’ll vote on the Sun.

    • The ocean is heated by direct sunlight and the sealed car is also heated by direct sunlight- the amount of direct sunlight is related to the highest temperature it can be heated to.
      The lunar surface can get about 1360 watts per square meter and it heats the lunar surface to well over 100 C [over 212 F]. The earth surface can receive just over 1000 watts per square meter and could heat something to 80 C [176 F]. Or if not magnified, 1000 watts per square of direct sunlight can not make anything as hot as 100 C [if magnified it can heat something to over 3000 C or max possible theoretical temperature is the temperature of the surface of the Sun.

      In terms of Earth surface, the sand or ground can and does heat up to about 70 C {158 F]- this is not to be confused with surface air temperature.
      A solar pond, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_pond , can heat up water to 80 C.
      A solar pond is related to the ocean. For solar pond to get as high as 80 C, requires a surface which would be heat to be somewhere 1 meter below the surface of the water. And require saltwater [or something like it]. And solar pond can reach such temperatures as 80 C because heat convection is inhibit salinity gradient. Or warmed water would rise, but one have salinity gradient with salty water below fresher water, and because salt water is denser than fresh water, the warmed saltwater isn’t lighter than the cooler freshwater above it- so the hot salt water stays at the the bottom of the pond.

      A parked car or greenhouse can prevent heated air from rising, so heated air also stays in the parked car or greenhouse. This also seen in hot air balloon- the lower part of balloon is open, and heated rises into it and is trapped. The air “wants” to go up. the balloon stops it and this upward force lifts the balloon and people on it..

  16. You know, I’ve know since I was a kid myself that you don’t leave pets or young children alone in a car on a hot day. But I still thought my sister was being excessive when, if we were driving somewhere with pets and needed to get something from a store (10 minutes top) she still insisted that both the car was left running with the AC going, AND that one of us stayed with the car just in case it died or something.

    Apparently I was wrong. 20 degrees in 10 minutes, pretty much regardless of the actual temp. Damn. ○¿○

  17. Public service announcement.

    Great reminder. Furthermore, beware of dognappers. It can only take a moment. Keep an eye on your companion even if in a convenience store for 1 minute.

    From my point of view an attempted dognapping could lead to a charge of assault or manslaughter.

  18. Thanks for that public service announcement Anthony. I raise dogs for Search And Rescue (SAR). If I need to leave them near a vehicle, I tie them to the bumper hitch in the shade with a bowl of water and check them every 20 minutes.

    It’s not that hard.

    • Somebody called Murphy will come and drive your car off, not noticing the dogs. Not today, not tomorrow but someday.

    • Dogs don’t sweat,they PANT through the mouth which dries them out quickly.

      Babies are very small get hot much faster than the adult man,they also don’t sweat worth a darn for the first few months of life, as this 1969 paper shows:

      THE RESPONSE OF THE SWEAT GLANDS OF THE NEW-BORN BABY TO THERMAL STIMULI AND
      TO INTRADERMAL ACETYLCHOLINE

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.1969.sp008846/pdf

      The man in the video is profoundly wrong.

  19. We’ve heard the excuses: “Oh, it will just be a few minutes ….”

    Man made catastrophes regularly begin with “I just wanted. ….. it only takes 10 minutes!

    And there’s no chance to start that subject thinking by himself, he’s already in possession of the ‘truth’ –

    I just wanted + only a few minutes!

  20. We’ve heard the excuses: “Oh, it will just be a few minutes ….”

    Man made catastrophes regularly begin with “I just wanted. ….. it only takes 10 minutes!

    And there’s no chance to start that subject thinking by himself, he/she’s already in possession of the ‘truth’ –

    I just wanted + only a few minutes!

    / fixed for gender justice /

  21. People simply do not think, once the AC stops the temperature steadily rises. You don’t need a PHD to understand this. What we do need a PHD for, apparently, is how to shutdown the automatically running video ad that keeps dragging the page view up or down to it. AdBlock does not seem to stop it.

    • AdBlock Plus…You can turn it on and off when a page gets held hostage by an abusive ad !! LOL

      • Somebody PMed me with a different solution in firefox, ublock. Been using adblock and adblock plus, both have become ineffective. March of “progress” and whatnot! ;)

  22. After moving to Australia and killing a Christmas tree and quite a few VHS tapes in the first couple of months (no kids or pets, thankfully), I wondered about inventing a solar-powered extractor fan to be inserted into the partially-open window. I doubt it would be able to keep the temperature of the steering wheel and gear stick down (I used to have gloves in the car for when I got back in and couldn’thold the wheel!), but it might have been able to keep the air temp down a bit.

    I think I saw something similar on a late-night shopping channel once – anyone else see/remember this?

    • I had one of those here in Florida about 10 years ago. Didn’t do much…might have lowered the interior temp about 5 or 10 degrees but wasn’t noticeable.

  23. LEAVE THE DOG HOME. Dogs don’t need to ride all over the place with you. Even if it’s cool outside, people can and do steal dogs from cars, especially if it’s a purebred or they find the dog irresistibly cute. Same for cats.

    • i’m sure that stealing my dog is at your own risk and peril (trained police service dog that didn’t got through his last test. a Malinois pure bred but soooooo sweet)

      why did he fail? he’s really bad in tracing even a ball hidden behind your back he doesn’t find :) but for my daily sport and movement he’s the best companion i can have and that counts the most.

    • Most ranchers do not have sufficient barn space to shelter their cattle for once a decade weather events.
      Don’t you think if they did they would have saved themselves millions of dollars in losses?

  24. Heat is only one part of threat to dogs in vehicles.
    The other two threats are high humidity, and stagnant air that comes with confined spaces.
    Stress from anxiety plays a role too.

    An FAA study from 1987 shows the exacerbating effects of high humidity.
    https://www.faa.gov/data_research/research/med_humanfacs/oamtechreports/1980s/media/AM87-08.pdf
    See Table 8 for chart of Temperature vs. Humidity – Danger Zone

    Keep in mind, dogs (Beagles) used in test were healthy and better suited for such tests. Thus, other breeds, age of dog, overall health, could drastically increase dog’s susceptibility to all the factors.

    • From Abstract:
      In order to offset the effects of an increase in air temperature (starting at 85 deg. Fahrenheit with a 90% relative humidity), relative humidity would need to be decreased by 4% Rh for every 1 deg. Fahrenheit rise in temperature.

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