The Dangers of Leaving Children in Hot Cars

The Dangers of Leaving Children in Hot Cars

Each year we’re faced with the tragic stories of young children losing their lives after being left in hot cars.  Only a few weeks ago a two-year old girl died in Texas after her parents mistakenly thought that she had left the family car, only to discover she still remained strapped in her car seat an hour and a half later in the sweltering heat.

No parents ever set out for this unimaginable situation to happen to them, yet each year more families are hit with the devastation of losing a child in this manner.  Regardless of whether the parent forgot the child in the car, or whether the parent thought that the time they were gone would be safe; the outcome is invariably the same.

We are going to discuss exactly why it is so dangerous to leave children in cars in the sun.

Hyperthermia is a condition where the body becomes hot to the point where it is unable regulate that heat and cool down.  The normal mechanisms that the body uses to cool itself down, such as sweating and increased circulation to the peripheries, can no longer keep up with the overheating.

Once the body reaches in excess of 40oC, damage begins to occur to internal organs.  This is already a medical emergency, and if not dealt with swiftly, will result in coma and death.

Children’s bodies are less physiologically mature than adults, and therefore less equipped to deal with extreme temperatures when compared to adults.  A child exposed to extreme heat will be at risk of death astonishingly quickly in a hot car.

So how hot does it get in cars, and why?

We’ve all experienced it.  We’ve all set out on a car journey on a sunny day, and opened the car to be met with a waft of hot air – certainly much hotter than the temperature feels outside the car.

If you cast your mind back to science lessons at school and think about the good old greenhouse effect, it may start to make sense as to why it gets so hot in cars.  The car windows allows the sunlight into the car.  That sunlight converts into heat once it is inside the car, however, that heat cannot escape through the windows as easily as the light entered.

The result?  The car gets increasingly hotter inside, despite the distinctly cooler temperature outside.

Now this is crucial when you consider the risks of leaving children in cars, even when the weather feels cooler.



Credit: http://bit.ly/1KA0dhu

This superb graphic found in The Metro gives you an idea of what is going on inside your car at different external temperatures.  As you can see, being in the car a mere ten minutes when the outside temperature is 21oC will give you an uncomfortable in-car temperature of 32oC.  Even a cracked window will make little or no difference to the temperature in the car, as it isn’t letting enough of the hot air out.

We already know the limits that our children’s bodies can tolerate in the heat, and it is plain to see how long it will be before they are in real trouble if left in a car on a relatively cool day.

The bottom line is, children should not be left in cars.  The cost in time of getting them out and taking them with you on your errand is going to be far less than the potential cost of their life if your errand ends up taking longer than you anticipated.  Minutes can make a significant difference, so don’t take that risk.

Fiona Chick is a south London mum, wife and blogger, and writes for Delta Autos' Blog. Delta Autos & Wimbledon Tyres are a thriving family-run garage in the heart of Merton. They provide a friendly, efficient and comprehensive service, covering every aspect of vehicle maintenance and repair - whilst always maintaining superb value for money.

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