Children, Adults and Pets Enclosed in Parked Vehicles are at Great Risk
Each year, dozens of children left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.
How fast can a car heat up?
In just over 2 minutes a car can go from a safe temperature to 94.3°F. A dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in range of 180°F to over 200°F. These objects heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection and also give off longwave radiation, which is very efficient at warming the air trapped inside a vehicle.
Child Safety Tips
- Make sure your child’s safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
- Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
- Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars.
- Always lock car doors and trunks–even at home–and keep keys out of children’s reach.
- Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don’t leave sleeping infants in the car ever!
Adult Heat Wave Safety Tips
- Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
- Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
- Put less fuel on your inner fires.Foods, like meat and other proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
- Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids.Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, are on fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Do not drink alcoholic beverages and limit caffeinated beverages.
- During excessive heat periods, spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, go to a library, store or other location with air conditioning for part of the day.
- Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
- Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
More information: Links to high quality information on heat safety
- MedlinePlus: “Heat Illness“
- CDC: “Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety“
- CDC: “Frequently Asked Questions about Extreme Heat” & En Español: “Preguntas frecuents sobre el calor extremo“
- Mayo Clinic: “Heat and Exercise: Keeping Cool in Hot Weather“
- EPA: “Excessive Heat Events Guidebook“
- Red Cross: “Heat Wave” (Brochure, PDF) & En Español: “Preparación para ola de calor“
In the news: Recent stories about Health & Heat
- Climate Change Could Be Tough on Seniors’ Health: Study (from MedlinePlus Health News)
- Nationwide heat safety awareness day coming up: prepare for the heat of summer (from Examiner.com)
- Today’s news: Extreme heat, obesity rates, teenage drivers (from APHA public health newswire)
- Referees make more mistakes in extreme heat (Bring on Qatar) (from The Telegraph)