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Department of Health News

Hot Cars or Hot Oven - It's the Same Thing!

Where's baby? Look before you lock.Every year, children die of hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke, while unattended in vehicles. The number of near-misses – children rescued before a fatality – is significantly higher. Hot cars put children’s and pets lives at risk!

Even on a seemingly mild day, temperatures inside a car can rise nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes, and leaving a window slightly open has no effect. These conditions are especially dangerous for children, whose bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. Heat stroke happens when the body cannot cool itself fast enough and the core temperature rises to dangerous levels.

“Kids react differently to heat than adults,” says Dr. Leticia Ryan of Children’s National Medical Center, Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services. “Infants and young children haven’t fully developed the internal systems regulating body temperature, putting them at much greater risk for organ failure and death when exposed to excessive heat. We see this all too often in the emergency room, and it’s absolutely Each year children and pets left in cars die from the heat!devastating.”

Heat Scale: You may not want to believe it, but the outside temperature can be as low as 70°F for tragedy to strike. In half an hour, the car will reach 99°F. In one hour, it will reach 117°F. At 95°F, the temperature in the car hits 107°F in five minutes and 142°F in an hour. No pet or person could survive this.

Temperatures can quickly reach up to 200°F in a car.

  • Each year children and pets left in cars die from the heat
  • Within minutes, the temperature in a car climbs
  • The hotter the day, the faster the heat rises inside the car
  • Cracking the window does nothing to decrease the temperature inside the car
  • Having the air conditioning on before leaving the car does not keep the vehicle cool
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away
  • Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected
  • Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver's view to indicate a child is in the car seat
  • Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.
  • If you see a child alone in a car, call the police or dial 911

Hot cars can kill... never leave a child or pet alone in a car!

Table: News Item Documents
File NameSizeTypeDate & Time Added
Heat Stroke Flyer 225 KB 07/23/2010 3:35 PM