ARL, Health Department and community partners recognize Iowa Heat Awareness Day

posted on Thursday, June 8, 2017 in News

(Des Moines, IA) – The Polk County Health Department, the National Weather Service, Animal Rescue League of Iowa, The Salvation Army and Polk County Emergency Management are recognizing Thursday, June 8, 2017 as Iowa Heat Awareness Day. Each summer, children and animals die or are hospitalized from being left unattended in a hot car.

“On a hot day, the inside of your vehicle can heat up faster than it takes to run an errand,” said Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director. “Don't let a tragedy happen.”

Children and animals should never be left alone in a vehicle, even if the windows are down. It doesn’t have to be hot outside for it to be dangerous to leave children or an animal unattended in a vehicle. If the temperature is 60 degrees out, your vehicle can reach temperatures of 100 degrees on a sunny day. On a 90-degree day, the inside of your vehicle can heat up to 160 degrees within several minutes.

Children are more susceptible to heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke and even death because their bodies generate more heat due to their size than adults. Their ability to sweat to cool themselves down isn’t as fully developed as adults. Animals such as dogs and cats can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation from being left in a hot vehicle even with the windows down.

“Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States. In 2016, 94 people died as a result of extreme heat, more than double the 2015 total of 45,” said Kelsey Angle, National Weather Service Des Moines Warning Coordination Meteorologist. “Everybody has a part in building a Weather-Ready Nation. During extreme heat, take the time to check on neighbors, insure pets have adequate water and look before you lock your vehicle to insure there are no kids left in the vehicle.”

The Polk County Health Department and partners would like to remind you to practice the following precautions so children and animals do not suffer from heat related illnesses or death this summer: •

  • Never leave children or animals alone in or around cars, not even for a minute.
  • If you see children or an animal in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately.
  • Put something in the backseat that you will need such as a cell phone, purse, shoe or an employee ID so you have to get that item every time you park. This will force you to look in the back seat of your vehicle. 
  • Keep vehicles locked and keep car keys and garage door openers out of reach of children.
  • Use drive-thru services when running errands and pay for gas at the pump to avoid leaving children and pets in the vehicle alone.

For additional extreme heat information and community heat toolkit, please visit the Polk County Health Department website at When weather conditions are ripe for extreme heat events, look for the Lamar Electronic Billboards in and around Polk County with heat awareness messages including keeping children and pets out of hot vehicles.