Wednesday, September 3, 2014 · 12:41 a.m.
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Officials with the Tennessee Highway Patrol are urging motorists to take extra precautions as temperatures rise throughout the summer and never leave children or pets in an unattended vehicle.

Experts said on a typical sunny day, the temperature inside a car can reach deadly levels within minutes, and even temperatures in the 60s can cause the temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit in a vehicle. At 90 degrees, the interior can heat up to 160 degrees within several minutes.

As of June 7, at least three children in the U.S. have died because of hyperthermia. In 2011, at least 33 juveniles died of vehicular hyperthermia, according to research by San Francisco State University. In Tennessee, there have not been any hyperthermia-related deaths since 2010.

“There have already been three heat-related vehicular fatalities this year,” Bill Gibbons, Department of Safety and Homeland Security commissioner, said. “We can prevent such tragedies by being vigilant and routinely making sure all occupants exit the vehicle when reaching your destination. Our goal is to prevent the senseless death of children who have been left in unattended vehicles.”

Only 19 states, including Tennessee, have laws prohibiting leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.

“Even if it is just for a few moments, motorists should never leave a child in an unattended vehicle,” THP Col. Tracy Trott said. “Cracking the window to let air in does little to protect children from the effects of heat buildup in a parked car. Those who fail to fulfill their responsibility to children face criminal prosecution.”  

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