Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

Currently: 68° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

5-MINUTE EXPERT:

How to help cars and pets cope with summer heat in the desert

Image

Jackie Valley

Boy Scouts participate in car safety activities at Henderson Chevrolet following the kickoff of the 2011 “Check Your Seat in the Heat” campaign. The goal is to eliminate preventable deaths that occur when children, elderly people and pets are left in vehicles during the summer heat.

Extreme heat can cause more grief than scalding-hot steering wheels and melted ice cream. If proper precautions aren’t taken, it can be deadly to your car, your belongings, your pets — even yourself.

In case of an emergency

Road trips are a staple of summer and a perfect chance to unwind without spending gobs of money. But every so often, bad luck strikes.

Be prepared for an emergency on the road by keeping these essentials in your vehicle:

• Bottled water

• Snacks

• Walking shoes

• Cellphone

• Phone charger

• Flashlight

• Blanket

• First-aid kit

• Jumper cables

• Tire jack

• Work gloves

• GPS and maps in case of an electronic failure

• Basic tools

Did you know?

Last year in the United States, 44 children died of heatstroke after being left in vehicles.

As triple-digit temperatures bear down on Southern Nevada this summer, some things to keep in mind:

CAR MAINTENANCE

Taking care of your car is a smart thing to do year-round but is particularly important in summer. Las Vegas’ blazing temperatures can wreak havoc on vehicles.

• High temperatures can cause the water in a vehicle’s battery to evaporate, zapping its life expectancy. Batteries typically last about six years, but Southern Nevada residents generally need new car batteries every few years. Of course, that all depends on heat exposure. A car parked outside every day will need a battery sooner than a vehicle regularly parked in a garage.

TIP: Check your battery at the beginning and end of each summer.

• Summer oil leaks are more common in vehicles with aluminum engines. Aluminum absorbs heat very easily, which causes it to expand. The expansion can crush gaskets, leading to oil leaks.

TIP: Minimize your car’s heat exposure by parking in a garage or the shade. Check under your vehicle for oil leaks.

• Radiators and air-conditioning systems tend to bite the bullet when strained during the summer heat. Being stopped on hot pavement makes it especially difficult for vehicles’ cooling systems to keep up.

TIP: Avoid running the air at maximum strength or hitting the recirculation button when stopped in traffic.

• Tires produce friction, and friction causes heat. So tires produce even more heat when the pavement is scorching. The extra heat can stress underinflated or damaged tires, causing them to blow.

TIP: Check your vehicle’s user manual for the correct pressure setting. Check tire pressure regularly during summer.

PET SAFETY

When summer heat becomes unbearable for humans, it becomes brutal for pets. Don’t forget about Fido when trying to keep cool.

• Keep pets indoors as much as possible during the summer. Even in the shade, animals can go into heat distress when the temperature tops 100 degrees.

• Walk dogs early in the morning and late in the evening. If the asphalt or concrete is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your animal’s paws.

• Provide pets with multiple outdoor water bowls in case one gets flipped over. Avoid metal bowls, which can burn.

• Misters and shade screens can help keep pets cool in backyards.

• Consult a veterinarian before buzzing your pet’s fur. Fur coats actually help cool certain breeds of dog.

• Don’t feed animals large meals before letting them outside.

• Get your pets microchippped and update their identification tags. Many animals go missing during the summer.

• Don’t allow people to feed your pets at barbecues. Common summer foods, such as grapes and avocados, can be poisonous to animals.

Other items that shouldn't be left in a car on a hot day:

• Prescription medication

• Electronics (cellphones, laptops, DVDs, etc.)

• Anything flammable

• Perishable food

• Glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses

• Aerosol cans

• Aluminum cans

• Batteries

• Makeup, especially lipstick or balm

• Sunscreen

The inside of a car can be lethal in summer.

DON’T LEAVE THE CAR WITHOUT…

On an 80-degree day, a car’s interior can heat up to 94 degrees in two minutes. After an hour, the inside temperature can reach 123 degrees.

That’s deadly ­— essentially an oven — and can kill babies, young children and pets in minutes.

Never leave a child or pet unattended in a car, even if the windows are cracked.

Drivers should make it a habit to check back seats for passengers every time they leave a car. Many drivers have unintentionally left children in vehicles.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy