Polk County Health Department

Health Department, National Weather Service and Emergency Management Recognize Iowa Heat Awareness Day

(Des Moines, IA) – The Polk County Health Department, the National Weather Service and Polk County Emergency Management are recognizing tomorrow, June 9, 2016 as Iowa Heat Awareness Day. Each year, children and pets suffer from heat related illnesses and even death as a result of being left alone in a hot car.

“It takes longer than you think to run into the store,” said Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director. “It takes less time than you think for the car to heat up inside. Don't let a tragedy happen.”

Children and animals should never be left alone in a vehicle, even if the windows are down. It doesn’t have to be hot outside for it to be dangerous to leave children or an animal unattended in a vehicle. If the temperature is 60 degrees out, your vehicle can reach temperatures of 100 degrees on a sunny day. On a 90 degree day like we will see this weekend, the inside of your vehicle can heat up to 160 degrees within several minutes. Children are more susceptible to heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke and even death because their bodies generate more heat due to their size than adults. Their ability to sweat to cool themselves down isn’t as fully developed as adults. Animals such as dogs and cats can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation from being left in a hot vehicle even with the windows down. 

There will be a hot car temperature demonstration at the National Weather Service (located at 9607 NW Beaver Drive, Johnston, Iowa) on Thursday, June 9, 2016. Media who would like to film and set up interviews, please contact Nola Aigner at (515) 782-7236 or by email at nola.aigner@polkcountyiowa.gov to set up a time.

“Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses. In 2015, 24 children left in vehicles were lost due to heat strokes,” said Kelsey Angle, National Weather Service Des Moines Warning Coordination Meteorologist. “A part of building a Weather-Ready Nation is about knowing and respecting the dangers of heat and looking, before you lock your vehicle.”

The Polk County Health Department, the National Weather Service and Polk County Emergency Management would like to remind you to practice the following precautions so children and animals do not suffer from heat related illnesses or death this summer:

  • Never leave a children or animal alone in or around cars, not even for a minute.
  • If you see children or an animal in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately.
  • Put something in the backseat that you will need such as a cell phone, purse, shoe or an employee ID so you have to get that item every time you park.
  • Keep vehicles locked and keep car keys and garage door openers out of reach of children.
  • Use drive-thru services when running errands and pay for gas at the pump.

For additional extreme heat information, please visit the Polk County Health Department website at

/health/. When weather conditions are ripe for extreme heat events, look for the Lamar Electronic Billboards in and around Polk County with heat awareness messages including keeping children and pets out of hot vehicles.

For additional information on extreme heat, please visit our website at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.




Contact Us

Phone: (515)-286-3798
Fax: (515)-286-2033

Address: 1907, Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314