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Child Vehicular Heatstroke

Heatstroke in Cars

Summer always brings an onslaught of heatstroke pediatric vehicle deaths. The hottest months inevitably bring the highest numbers of hypothermia incidents, so summer and early fall are the most treacherous times.In fact, aside from crashes, heatstroke is the leading cause of death in vehicles for children 14 years old and younger.

Cars transform into ovens when direct sunlight heats objects inside. The body’s natural cooling methods, such as sweating, begin to shut down once the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees. Death can occur at 107 degrees.

  • 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.


According to as of June 8, 2019, 806 children have died due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke since 1998.

Twenty-twoof those hot car deaths occurred in Missouri. Three of those occurred in Missouri on July 4, 2018. These deaths could have been avoided.

Children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they were left or became trapped, have reached a record number. In 2018,the highest number of pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths were reported, 52 children lost their lives, since records began in 1998.

More than half of vehicular heatstroke cases from 1998 to 2018 were because an adult forgot about a child, according to

Among the trends the group discovered in these incidents:

  • About 44% of the time, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at daycare or preschool.
  • The end of the workweek—Thursdays and Fridays—saw the highest number of deaths.

Vehicular heatstroke deaths don’t just happen when a child is forgotten. The second leading cause (26%) of such deaths are children getting into unattended vehicles. Get in the habit of always locking your car doors and trunk, year-round. The temperature inside a car can reach 110 degrees, even when the temperature outside is as low as 57 degrees.

While all types of vehicular heatstroke deaths are preventable, the third leading cause of these deaths—knowingly leaving a child—is the most preventable. Never leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down or the air conditioning on. A child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult.

If you see a child alone in a vehicle:

  • Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
  • If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over an intercom system.
  • If the child is not responsive and appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window.

You may be asking yourself: How does this happen? Families who lost a loved one thought the same thing at one point, but then the tragedy happened to them. Let this be your reminder to keep alert, avoid distractions, and put safeguards in place so your child is never left in the backseat.

Remember: Kids and hot cars can be a deadly combination. Don’t take the chance. Always look in the front and back of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away.

Help spread the word on social media  #HeatstrokeKills #CheckforBaby

If you are involved in an auto collision and need repair service, contact Spirit West Rapid Refinishat 636.386.8060 Monday through Friday between 9am-5pm, closed 12pm-1pm or stop by our convenient location at 14643 Manchester Rd., Ballwin, Missouri 63011.




Spirit West Motor Carriage, founded in 1977, is a full-service auto body repair shop serving the St. Louis and surrounding Metro area. For nearly four decades, our family-owned business and our experienced staff have been providing quality auto collision repair, mechanical, paintless dent repair (PDR), complete paint refinishing, and wheel and framing alignment services.