The summer heat has arrived early and, for me, it couldn't have come soon enough.

The heat can be very dangerous, if not deadly, if people are not careful.

In particular, leaving children and/or pets in the car on even a warm day is dangerous.

While researching this topic, I was shocked to learn how many children die each year from being left in the car on a hot day.

I don't think people realize how fast a vehicle can heat up, even on a day it's 72 degrees.

If you park your car in the shade, it's not much help. Cracking a window has almost no effect.

Here are some facts of how fast things can turn deadly. In as little as three minutes, the heat in a vehicle starts to go up, so it's not okay to leave a child or an animal in the vehicle while you just run in the store for a few minutes.

Temperatures rise as much as 19 degrees in 10 minutes -- even with the windows cracked.

In 20 minutes, it can go up 29 degrees, and in about an hour's time, it can go up 45 to 50 degrees.

An average of 37 children -- ages 5 days to 14 years old -- die of hyperthermia each year from being left unattended in a vehicle. That's 37 too many.

More than half of those children are under 2 years old. Very sad.

Now onto our four-legged friends. If you leave your dog in a vehicle on a hot day, this is what can happen.

The dog will start panting. He can experience hyperventilation and increased salivation and then vomiting, confusion, weakness and, sometimes, diarrhea and bleeding.

Your dog could have a seizure or go into a coma. The animal's internal organs could simply shut down ... thus the animal could die.

In some cases, it can happen in as little as 15 minutes. I would hope everyone who has a dog would not want their best friend to die that way.

The same goes for children. They could go through similar symptoms to what an animal can experience.

I could not imagine anyone -- a child or an animal -- going through such a horrible death.

The next time you see a child left in a vehicle, no matter what the temperature, call 911 immediately.

For animals left in vehicles on a warm or hot day, call animal control at 860-354-2138 or 911.

The next time you have to run a few quick errands, please leave the dog home. Leaving it in the vehicle for just a few minutes may be a few minutes too long.

And, one more thing, it's against the law in Connecticut to leave children and/or animals unattended in a vehicle.