Hot Cars and Kids: Facts about Vehicular Heat Stroke

Hot Cars and Kids: Facts about Vehicular Heat Stroke

Avoid vehicular heat stroke with these safety tips

As the temperatures increase, so do the dangers surrounding little ones and cars. On average, 37 children die each year from being left alone in hot vehicles.

A car can heat up to a deadly temperature in a matter of minutes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 10 minutes, a car’s internal temperature will increase by 20 degrees. This means that on an 80 degree day, in just a matter of minutes, the internal temperature of the car will heat up to a deadly 100+ degrees — and that temperature will continue to climb.

Even on a 60 degree day, a car can heat up to a deadly 110 degrees inside; because of this, it is never OK to leave a child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute.

NHTSA promotes the Look Before You Lock campaign, which encourages parents to look in the backseat each and every time they lock their vehicle doors. Safe Kids Worldwide encourages families to ACT:

  • Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it, so kids don’t get in on their own.
  • Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child, such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
  • Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call; they are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Ohio Senate Bill 215
The state law allows an individual to force their way into a hot vehicle to save a child who is in danger. The individual must call 911 first and is encouraged to document the situation with cell phone pictures or video, but they will be protected by the law if they force entry to save a child in danger.

Additional Steps to Keep Kids Safe
Set up a notification system with your childcare provider. If your child doesn’t arrive at school by a designated time, have your childcare provider call you, the child’s grandparents, and any other emergency contact until the child is located.

Put your child’s lunchbox or backpack next to you in the front passenger seat so that if you get to your destination and it is still there, you will realize that you have forgotten to drop your little one off at daycare or school.

If a child goes missing, immediately check all parked vehicles — this includes both inside the vehicle as well as the trunk.

by Stephanie Weigel, MPH, Injury prevention coalition coordinator, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. For more information, visit

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