Children Dying in Hot Vehicles

So how is this happening? According to a TIME Magazine article, it is not the neglectful parent that forgets their child in the car. It is happening to parents that are loving and care for their children. However these parent’s minds are fatigued, stressed, and distracted. The brain’s “habit” memory overrides the “prospective” memory, and parents are innocently forgetting their children in vehicles. In other cases, children have been playing in the vehicle and become disoriented and thus unable to get out.

In Bowling Green, Kentucky the average temperature can range from 70 degrees to 78 degrees in the spring. While in the summer, temperatures can range from 86 degrees to 89 degrees. According to a study conducted by Jan Null, a professor at San Francisco University, at 70 degrees on a sunny day, the temperature inside a car can reach 104 degrees in a half hour. Within a full hour, those temps can rise to 113 degrees.

Children have died in cars with the temperature as low as 63 degrees. Children’s body temperatures can rise 3 to 5 times quicker than an adult. Once a person’s core body temperature reaches 107 degrees or more then cells are damaged and internal organs begin to shut down.

In the past 15 years, there have been 555 deaths of children due to vehicular heatstroke in the United States. 54% of those children were forgotten by a caregiver, 28% were playing in an unattended vehicle, and 17% were intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult. 74% of those children were 2 years old and younger. (* Data from San Jose State University)

How can we keep this from happening in the future? We should be educating parents to lock up their vehicle at every location, including at their home. If a child goes missing, always check the vehicle and the trunk first. Let your children know that the vehicle is not a place to play. Also, we should be educating and reminding parents of the dangers of leaving their children in the vehicle. We can do things such as placing a purse, cellphone, laptop, or one shoe in the back seat to remind us to open the back door to get this item when we reach our destination. Therefore, reminding us there is a child riding in the vehicle. Please do not leave your children in the vehicle unattended, not even for a minute!

Article provided by Safety Seat Services

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