Summer is right around the corner, which means temperatures are rising in Tucson.
But whether you’ll enjoy or dread the loads of sunshine headed our way, officials are reminding Tucsonans to watch out for vulnerable people and pets.
It should be a no-brainer, but too many times we have seen news reports on deaths of those forgotten in a hot car; this can happen in less time than one would think.
Cases related to heatstroke in Arizona continue to highlight officials’ warnings that it only takes a few minutes for vehicles to become 20 degrees hotter than it is outside, according to the National Weather Service. The agency also says that heat continues to cause the most weather-related deaths in Arizona.
Just last week a 1½-year-old girl in Glendale died after being found inside a car at an apartment complex on April 22, the Arizona Republic reported. Her death is believed to be heat related, as the day’s high temperature was in the upper 80s. Police believe she was in the car for at least a few hours.
Jessica Nolte, a Tucson Fire Department spokeswoman, said Tucson firefighters have already been dispatched to at least two instances this year where someone was locked in a vehicle. A fix for that could be as simple as securing car keys.
“Even making sure that your car keys are secure on a hook or somewhere where they can’t reach them so that they can accidentally get into the car and say that ‘they’re playing,’ and then lock themselves in the vehicle,” Nolte said.
About 40 kids under the age of 14 have been killed in Arizona after they were left in hot vehicles, according to Kidsandcars.org, a national nonprofit that advocates for vehicle safety laws to prevent heatstroke deaths. That number puts the state at fourth in the nation from 1990 to 2018, the organization claims.
An Arizona law enacted in 2017 does allow good Samaritans to step into action. Anyone who sees another person or pet in severe distress can break the window of the vehicle to help save them after calling law enforcement for help.
But Nikki Reck, spokeswoman for the Pima Animal Care Center, said these situations can call for different responses.
If you see a pet in a vehicle but don’t believe there’s any reason for it to be in immediate danger, you should contact dispatchers at 520-724-5900, extension four, and personnel will make their way to the location.
If you don’t think animal care staff will make it in time, call 911 and law enforcement will arrive to investigate. When “life or death” is on the line, Reck said the good Samaritan law will come into play.
Before a situation may arise, Reck said the general guideline is to keep pets at home when out running errands and places where they are not allowed. If you need to be out with a pet, bring lots of clean water and keep them out of the elements.
Reck said those guidelines apply especially to short-nosed pets like a bulldog and Boston terriers, who can have a difficulty breathing.
“The best thing to do if you and your pet are going to be outside, just watch for your friend,” Reck said. “If he’s acting any different than normal, bring him inside if you can. You know your pets best.”
When it comes to vulnerable people and animals in vehicles, it is always best to play it safe, Nolte said, as even a minute can become something much longer.
“Unfortunately, you think it’s a minute, but your track of mind goes somewhere else or you end up on a tangent,” she said, adding that it’s better to take the time to bring kids and pets back inside than being tempted to leave them for your second load from the car.
Down the Road
• I-19, Ajo Way on-ramp to close Monday: Constructions will close the southbound on-ramp of Interstate 19 at Ajo Way for the next two months starting Monday as part of phase two of the interchange project.
Motorists are advised to use Irvington Road, 29th Street, 12th Avenue and Mission Road as alternate routes.
The Irvington Road off-ramp will also close Monday at 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Motorists should use caution and watch for personnel in the area.
• Lane restrictions set for I-10 between Speedway Blvd. and 22nd St.: Road crews will be working on the pavement of I-10 between Speedway and 22nd Street, narrowing the highway to one lane in both directions.
A 14-foot vehicle width restriction will be in place during the ongoing work from 9 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Motorists should plan for extra travel time.
• Eastbound I-10 ramp at SR 87 closed for seven weeks: Road crews have closed the eastbound on-ramp of I-10 as they continue efforts to widen the road north of Picacho Peak.
After its completion by mid-June, the highway between Mileposts 209 and 213 will be six lanes.
Motorists are advised to use westbound I-10 to Sunshine Boulevard and re-enter eastbound traffic to get past the construction area.