Protecting Children from the Dangers of Vehicular Heatstroke

Written By Melissa Jabour

What is Vehicular Heatstroke?

On average, nearly forty children die each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles, also known as vehicular heatstroke, according to safety organization Kids and Cars.org. As of July 1st, eighteen children have already lost their lives as a result of being trapped in a hot car.

Why is being in a Car More Dangerous?

These facts illustrate why vehicular heatstroke is such a problem:

  •                 The body temperature of a child rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body temperature.
  •                 The temperature of a car can climb 20 degrees in 20 minutes.
  •                 Heatstroke can occur in the shade and with the car windows down.

Who is At Risk of Vehicular Heatstroke?

A vast majority of vehicular heatstroke victims are age three and younger, and more than half are one year or younger. The prevalence of backseat safety seats, especially rear-facing ones, may account for the young age of most victims, since the children are outside of the driver’s view and cannot effectively communicate. While no one wants to believe that they would be capable of leaving their child unattended in their vehicle, the stories of children dying in hot cars are eerily similar.

How To Prevent Vehicular Heatstroke

Here are some strategies to reduce the odds of a catastrophe:

-Leave a child’s diaper bag or other belongings in the front seat.

-Leave items you need for work in the backseat, such as a purse, employee badge, lunchbox, or cell phone.

-Keep a large stuffed animal in a vacant car seat. When a child gets into the car seat, toss the stuffed animal up front.

-Choose a car seat that chimes to remind you your child is buckled in.

-Choose a vehicle with an alert system that reminds drivers to check the rear seats.