Leaving your car in an Escondido parking lot during the summer months for even a few minutes without the vehicle running typically leads to a very hot car. While hot cars are not a problem when they are unoccupied, hot cars can cause the deaths of children who are left in vehicles even for a few minutes. According to a recent report from CNN News, hot car deaths have reached a record high” as of July. 29 kids across the country have suffered fatal injuries as a result of heatstroke after being left in a hot car. California, along with Texas and Florida, had the highest number of heatstroke-related child deaths this summer.
You might think that you would never forget a child in a vehicle, but the article suggests that even the most diligent parents need to take precautions to prevent hot car deaths, particularly during the summer months.
July Hot Car Deaths Reach Unfortunate Record
As the article explains, the last week of July saw 11 deaths related to hot-car heatstroke, which is a particularly high number. Prior to this summer, the record for hot car deaths peaked at 28 in 2010, a year in which there were a total of 49 deaths connected to hot cars. ccording to Jan Null, who is a meteorologist with the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, the number of deaths reported thus far is a conservative estimate. Indeed, “there are several more [deaths] each year that go under the radar,” Null emphasized.
Many people do not realize how quickly a car can become extremely hot. Null explains that, once you have the air conditioner running in your vehicle and then come to a stop in a parking lot, the temperature begins rising as soon as you turn off the engine. Within only 10 minutes’ time, the temperature, on average, rises about 19 degrees. In other words, if you turn off your car when it has a temperature of 80 degrees, it will reach almost 100 degrees—an unsafe temperature—within just 10 minutes.
How Hot is Too Hot inside a Motor Vehicle in Escondido?
According to the report, “medical professionals generally use 104-degree body temperature to measure heatstroke, and death can occur when the body temperatures reach the 107-degree range.” While most people can survive within a 100-degree car, the chances of injury increase relatively rapidly. Null suggests that, “even on an 80-degree day—which is a mild summer day for most of the country—you’re at 109 in 20 minutes” within the vehicle.
And kids are much more susceptible to heatstroke injury and death than adults. The Mayo Clinic indicates that “the central nervous system is not fully developed in children, and this makes their bodies less able to cope with temperature changes.” Moreover, the core body temperature of a child rises much more quickly—sometimes five times as rapidly—as an adult’s core body temperature. When the core body temperature rises, an individual can be at serious risk of heat illness, heatstroke, and death.
What is the best way to prevent hot car deaths? The article suggests that an alert system inside the vehicle may be the best way to avoid these accidents. But if your car does not have an option for such an alert system, an article in Today recommends the following safety tips:
- Always look in the backseat before you lock the car;
- Put something you need (like your wallet or purse) in the backseat;
- Always lock your car doors to prevent children from getting inside;
- Keep your keys and fobs out of the reach of children;
- Have a hot car safety plan if you use childcare; and
- If you see a child in a hot car, say something.
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(image courtesy of Dan Gold)