As another day of triple-digit heat rolled around, El Dorado firefighters took that opportunity to showcase just how hot it can get inside a car, and how quickly it can happen.
For the first time, the department set up an awareness demonstration at Walmart in El Dorado. With a thermometer inside, firefighters locked up a car and let it sit as temperatures outside began to climb. In about one hour, even on a cloudy morning, the temperature inside the car hit 91 degrees.
"A lot of people don't know that it can get close to 200 degrees inside a car," said El Dorado Master Firefighter Derick Boggs. "Even on a 60 degree day, it can get upwards of 110 to 120 degrees inside of a car."
Those kinds of temperatures can be dangerous and even deadly to children and pets who may get left behind or forgotten in the car.
"There's a lot more distractions in life that didn't exist years ago," added El Dorado Fire Chief Steve Moody. "It's a much more complicated world and people forget."
Sometimes it's not just about forgetting your child inside the car. Even leaving your child for a quick run inside the grocery store can be dangerous. In just ten minutes, the temperature inside a car can climb 20 degrees.
"I was guilty of that," admitted now-grandmother Pam Hendrix. "We had a little hometown store and it was like you'd run inside and grab the milk and come right back out, but we didn't have this education when my kids were that young. So, I never would have thought that ten minutes would make that big of a difference."
Now, Pam says she'd never do that.
Even cracking your windows may not be enough to keep you car cool with kids inside. According to Boggs, it can still reach 120 to 130 degrees inside a car even with the windows cracked.
On average, there are about 38 hot car deaths in the United States each year. El Dorado firefighters hope continued education and awareness about those dangers help lower that number and keep them from being needed for tragedies like that in the future.
"It's an epidemic that we need to stop," said Boggs.