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Temperatures in cars quickly rise to life-threatening levels: Japan auto federation

Crayons on the dashboard began to melt about 10 minutes into the experiment. (Photo courtesy of the Japan Automobile Federation's Yamagata branch)

YAMAGATA -- Ahead of the summer heat, the Japan Automobile Federation is warning people not to leave children or pets inside cars even for short periods of time, after the heatstroke deaths of several children in recent years.

    The federation's branch in the city of Yamagata conducted an experiment to see how quickly the temperature inside a car rises to life-threatening levels. It was conducted between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. on May 31 in the branch's parking lot.

    The weather was clear with occasional cloudy periods -- a moderate breeze and temperatures between 23.6 degrees Celsius and 24.1 C meant conditions were comfortable. The car had been parked in the shade before it was moved to an area exposed to direct sunlight. Its engine was turned off, and all the windows closed.

    The temperatures were measured at the height of the head of a seated adult passenger. Originally 25.3 C, the temperature inside exceeded 30 C in 10 minutes, rose to 39.5 C after 30 minutes, and 43.5 C after an hour -- about 20 degrees higher than the 23.7 C outside. The surface of the dashboard hit up to 74.1 C, melting a set of crayons that had been put on it.

    The federation's Yamagata branch pointed to the risk of heatstroke inside cars even when the outside temperature is comfortable. "Especially in babies and small children, thermoregulatory function is underdeveloped, and their body temperatures quickly rise in hot conditions," an official said. "We want people not to leave little children or pets inside cars even for a short time."

    (Japanese original by Genta Fujimura, Yamagata Bureau)

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