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What’s It Like to Be Stuck in a Hot Car?

car heat

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB)- A car traps heat inside, especially if parked directly in the sunlight.  In the summer heat, you are warned to not leave your pet, or anyone in the car, even for a minute.

The consequences can be deadly.

“Core temperature becoming more elevated to the point that becomes dangerous and can cause irreversible damage if left uncorrected,” says Northampton firefighter and paramedic, Tim Putnam.

ABC40’s Brittany Decker did an experiment to show how dangerous a heated car can be. On hand to monitor her health is Northampton fire and medical professionals.

“We had our air conditioner on while driving, we parked the car in the direct sun and we’re going to sit inside for 10 min to see how hot it gets,” says Decker.

A heat gun that belongs to the Deputy Chief, Timothy McQueston, determines the temperature with a press of the trigger.

It was a cool, comfortable 70 degrees, but even before getting in the temperature jumped.

“It’s 92 degrees,” says McQueston.

Starting the clock with the windows up, it didn’t take long to reach triple digits.

“It’s been just about 3 minutes and already over 100 degrees,” says Decker as she sits in site the vehicle.

At this point she is starting to sweat.

“We hit 109,” says Decker.

And it keeps rising, “It’s almost unbearably hot, we’re already at 114 to 116 degrees inside,” Decker continues.

At the end of the 10 minutes it’s touching the 120 mark.

“It’s a similar effect of putting a chicken in the oven,” says McQueston.

This shows just how quickly the temperature can rise in an enclosed space.  Now something a little different, showing the impact heat has on my body while sitting in a car that’s already been sitting directly in the sun for hours.

Temperature inside this time is 120 degrees from the start.

“What we’re going to do is before getting in the car take vitals, blood pressure, and pulse and see if it’s different from before to after sitting in a heated car for 10 minutes,” explains Decker.

“146/82 oxygen saturation 98%,” says Putnam as he reads the blood pressure and oxygen level from the screen.

“I thought it was brutal before, but this time was even worse,” says Decker. “Even as a healthy adult,

I was more than ready to get out after 10 minutes,” she continues.

And the numbers did change quite significant for a short amount of time.

“The significant change I see is in the blood pressure,” says Putnam as he checks out the numbers on the machine.

It dropped, and so did her oxygen levels.

“Your oxygen is actually lower, 94% which is below the threshold. We like to see 95. Before you were 98,” Putnam adds.

In a situation like this patients usually will get dehydrated first, go through stages like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, then eventually heat stroke.

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