Hot Car Deaths

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MID-MISSOURI - One child, 11 months old, died in Calverton Park, near St. Louis, on June 2, 2019. The temperature outside was 79-degrees. As of June 8, 11 children have died of vehicular heatstroke in the United States in 2019.

2018 marked the highest number of pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths, 52, since records began in 1998. According to noheatstroke.org as of June 8, 2019, 806 children have died due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke since 1998.  22 of those hot car deaths occurred in Missouri. Three of those occurred in Missouri on July 4, 2018. These deaths could have been avoided. 

For reference, heat stroke occurs when a person's body temperature exceeds 104 degrees.This happens a lot faster to children because their body temperature rises at a rate three to five times that of an adult. 

It only takes 30 minutes sitting in 75 degree temperatures to warm up the inside of a car to 109 degrees. 

In 85 degree weather, the interior of a vehicle will skyrocket nearly 20 degrees in just ten minutes reaching 104 degrees. Cracking the windows won't help cool things down. After an hour in the sunlight and 85 degree exterior air temperatures, the air inside a vehicle will be around 128 degrees.

In 90 degree exterior temperatures, the temperature inside a car rises to 109 degrees in ten minutes, 124 in thirty minutes and 133 in an hour. 

The steering wheel, dashboard, car seat, etc. can get even hotter, heating up to closer to 180-200 degrees, according to a report from San Jose State University. 

Here are some tips and recommendations:

  • Always make sure everyone, including pets, get out of the car.
  • Remember to "look before you leave" to double check all children and pets are out of the vehicle before you get out. Make it a routine like putting on your seatbelt. 
  • Place a sun guard behind your windshield to cut down on heating while you're gone.
  • If you see a child inside a parked vehicle, call 911 immediately. 
  • Do NOT rely on a cracked window to counteract interior heating. It doesn't.

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