Blistering hot summer days are just around the corner. But did you know that even when the
temperature is just 75 degrees outside, the internal temperature of a car can reach 105
degrees? Preventing hot car deaths is crucial in the warm summer months. Everyone can
Never leave a child or infant unattended in a vehicle, even if you think you are only going to
leave them there for a minute. Distractions could make your return longer than you anticipate.
Temperatures inside a car can rapidly increase, even with windows cracked for ventilation.
Children’s body temperatures rise five times quicker than adults. Heat stroke begins when a
core temperature reaches 104 degrees. Death occurs when a core temperature reaches 107
degrees. Researchers found in 2018 that on a hot day of 95 degrees, it took just an hour for the
inside of a car to reach a scorching 116 degrees (Temperature Journal, 2018). In a car parked
in the shade, it took 2 hours to reach a similar temperature and a hypothetical child of 2 to reach
the threshold temperature for heat stroke.
“We hope these findings can be leveraged for the awareness and prevention of pediatric
vehicular heatstroke,” said researcher Jennifer Vanos, the study’s lead researcher and an
associate professor in the School of Sustainability in the College of Global Futures at
Arizona State University.
There are several safeguards parents and caregivers can take to protect their children:
1. Never leave children unattended in a vehicle, even for a short period of time. Whether
you are running inside to grab something or you don’t want to wake your sleeping child,
the risk of leaving them is not worth the perceived benefit. Children can overheat
rapidly, even if the windows are partially open or the air conditioning is running.
2. Lock cars doors at all times of the year and keep keys out of children’s reach. Cars are
not playgrounds. Keep cars off limits to prevent children from entering the car
3. When driving with your infant, especially in the summer, create tangible reminders to
check the back seat. Place an item, such as a purse or briefcase, next to the carseat.
Alternatively, a toy next to you can remind you to check the carseat each time you leave
the car. This is especially important in the summer when a typical childcare routines can
4. Communicate with childcare providers: Ensure that your childcare provider has a
policy to contact you promptly if your child doesn’t arrive as expected. This
additional layer of communication can help prevent instances where a child is
left unattended in a car.
5. Teach children about car safety: Educate your children about the dangers of
playing in and around vehicles. Teach them that cars are not toys and should
never be used as play areas.
6. Be vigilant in parking lots: Take extra caution in parking lots, especially during
busy or hectic times. Be aware of your surroundings, check for children around
your vehicle before getting in, and be cautious of other vehicles that may not see
children in their blind spots.
Remember, it is everyone’s responsibility to look out for the well-being of children. If you
ever witness a child alone in a vehicle and believe they are in immediate danger, it is
important to contact emergency services right away.