Danger Alert: Kids in Hot Cars (Part 1)

Danger Alert: Part 1 of 2

As we approach the hottest two months of the year, we want to remind you of the dangers of leaving children in hot cars. Every year we hear a heartbreaking story about a child being accidentally left in a car and then dying of heat related injuries. While most children are unintentionally (54%) left in a car – parents either forgetting the child is in the back seat or thinking they have already dropped them off at school or daycare. Some people believe that it is OK to leave a sleeping child in the car to run a “quick errand” (17%), and other kids gain access to a car on their own and are unable to get out (28%).

While the summer months are especially dangerous for hot car deaths, it is important to remember that it can happen any month of the year. It does not have to be a hot day for these deaths to occur. Cars transform into ovens when direct sunlight hits them. Internal car temperatures rise an average of 19 degrees every 10 minutes, making even a mild day stifling inside the vehicle – even when outside temperatures are as low as 57 degrees, a car’s internal temperature can reach 110 degrees!

It only takes minutes for a person’s body to be affected by the intense heat. As the vehicle’s internal temperature rises, so does the body’s core temperature. We normally get rid of excess heat by sweating, but in a hot car, we lose the ability to sweat and therefore lose the ability to get rid of excess heat and the body’s temperature rapidly rises. When the body’s core temperature rises, heatstroke may occur, which can cause unconsciousness, permanent brain damage, heart, and kidney damage and in the worst-case scenario, lead to death.