The heat of summer can spell serious danger for kids and pets left inside vehicles for any length of time.

In New Jersey, 12 children have died over the past 20 years. AAA/Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Tracy Noble told New Jersey 101.5 last summer. In Pennsylvania, the number at that time was 11. And there has been one death in Delaware.

"A child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's body. On a 95-degree day, a car can heat up to over 180 degrees. And it only takes temperatures at 104 degrees for internal organs to start to shut down. So even in a matter of moments we can have a catastrophe on our hands."

Noble said AAA is urging motorists to use its 'ACT' method of avoiding tragedy:

A: Avoid heatstroke by never leaving a child alone in a car.

C: Create either electronic reminders on your phone or put something in the backseat that you need when you exit the car, be it your wallet, your purse — even a shoe, if necessary. Something that you cannot leave the car without.

T: Take action immediately. If you see a child or a pet for that matter alone in a vehicle on a hot day, call 911 and stay with that car until help arrives.

Noble also made the point that an unattended vehicle should never be a child's playground.

"We just want to make sure that children understand the dangers associated with the vehicle, and that they understand that it is not a place to play. So make sure that your children do not have access to your car keys, and make sure that your vehicle is locked at all times, even in a driveway."

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