West Valley City police and fire departments demonstrate dangers of sitting in a hot car

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jul 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-03 00:07:10-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- The month of June brought record-breaking heat, with several days of triple digit temperatures, and Thursday police and fire department personnel in West Valley City demonstrated the dangers of being in a hot car.

“So we just got in, we turned the car off; we'll see how long it takes to get hot,” said Dana Pugmire, an officer with West Valley City Police Department.

Pugmire started the first of his fifteen minutes inside a parked car, with temperatures outside reaching nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit

“It's only been about 30 seconds, I can already feel the heat starting to build in here,” Pugmire said. “It builds quick, quicker than I thought it would.”

A few moments later: “It's been about now 2 minutes, and it's a noticeable difference after just two minutes,” Pugmire said. “Sweating a lot more than I was before I got in.”

And at three minutes: “I’m starting to sweat like all over the place; this is incredible how fast it builds up in here."

Mary Lindsay-Vonk was one of several fire department personnel on hand to monitor Pugmire and keep an eye on his health and well-being.

“If you saw him in the very beginning, he was calm, cool and collected,” she said. “…but near the end he started to get a little more agitated, moving more, looking more. He didn't have as good of eye contact.”

Pugmire added, “Everything's hot. My arms are sweating. Obviously my face is sweating. I'm sweating just everywhere.”

Eventually, the 15 minutes was up, and fire fighters quickly moved officer Pugmire into the shade and gave him ice to put on his neck and something to drink.

Fire officials said he was sweating a lot, which is good news because it means he hadn't yet reached the stage of heat exhaustion or stroke.

But if his body had stopped sweating, they say he could have had a serious medical problem.

“I think a lot of times people think it’s just going to be a second, 'I’m just going to run in to the store: it’s only going to be real quick,'” Pugmire said. “I’ll tell you right now, after the first 2 minutes it was so hot in there, it was noticeably different. It wasn't comfortable after the first few minutes by any means, so even just a few minutes in there is going to be bad.”

Police and fire personnel say the car's interior can heat up by an average of 40 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour, and 80 percent of the temperature rise happens within the first half hour.

Police said if you believe a child or an animal has been left in a hot car, call 911 and monitor the situation and let them know what is happening.