Heatstroke Dangers

Heatstroke becomes increasingly common as summer temperatures rise. A heatstroke is a condition that occurs from overheating of the body due to exposure to excessively high temperatures. 

One action that can put individuals at risk is the result of sitting in a hot car. These incidences are increasingly becoming more common, but can be avoided with some precaution.

Why this is an Important Topic?

According to the National Safety Council, “In 2018, 53 children died in hot cars. It was the deadliest year on record in the past 20 years. Since 1998, more than 800 children have died from vehicular heatstroke” The ages of those children that have died due to heatstroke since 1998 are from 5 days old up to 14 years old. 

Children are especially vulnerable to hot car heatstroke as their body’s temperature regulatory system is still maturing. In fact, “A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s does. When left in a hot car, a child’s major organs begin to shut down when his temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit (F)” (healthychildren).

Many times it occurs from one of the following three ways: 

  • A child being forgotten in the car (54.2% of the time)
  • A child gaining access to the car on their own (25.2% of the time)
  • Someone knowingly leaving a child in the car (19.1% of the time)


How Fast Can Heatstroke Happen?

“Heatstroke can happen when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees F . . . Cracking a window and/or air conditioning does little to keep it cool once the car is turned off”.

The temperature in a car can raise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. 

Watched this video offered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that shows just how fast heatstroke can occur in a hot car – even with the window cracked.

No matter how quick your errand is, there is no amount of time that is okay in a turned off car without fresh air.


Related post: Avoiding Heatstroke