Early in the morning this Wednesday, August 26, a heat alert was issued for the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley and parts of the LA Basin. The alert isn’t set to expire until Friday, August 28th and until that time, dangerously high temperatures will require that folks take extra precautions when going about their daily lives. With temperatures like these, just being exposed for a few hours can adversely effect an individual’s health and well-being.
That being said, for those of you with kids, leaving a child alone in the car for only a short amount of time is never a good idea. With temperatures like these, though, children can quickly and easily succumb to heat exhaustion, which may lead to parents being charged with PC 273a: child endangerment. Child endangerment is a “wobbler” in the State of California, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The severity of the charge will depend on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense, though it isn’t uncommon for otherwise attentive parents to be charged with this crime during heatwaves.
Aside from children, pets are frequently left unattended in cars, and the heat poses the same risk for them as it does for children. Animals don’t cool themselves the same way people do, and can easily be overcome by extreme temperatures in a very short amount of time. PC 597.7 covers the laws regarding leaving an animal unattended in a car, though unlike child endangerment, PC 597.7 is not a “wobbler.” A firs-offense often results in a $100 fine per animal, provided no harm came to the pet as a result of being left in the car.
Regardless of whether one has a child, a pet, both, or neither, it’s important to take the weather into consideration with everything they do during times like this. Too much heat can affect the mind and body in a variety of ways, some of which aren’t readily apparent until it’s become serious. Remember to drink lots of water and avoid prolonged exposure to the heat until things return to normal.