During the summer, intense sunlight and high outdoor temperatures can turn a parked car into a serious threat to your child’s health and safety. Each summer, an average of almost 40 children die from heat stroke after being left in a parked car, and many of these situations are accidents. Heat stroke is a serious and life-threatening illness that can occur quickly in children and always requires emergency pediatric care .
The Dangers of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke occurs when the body is exposed to extreme heat . This condition often occurs simultaneously with dehydration, and together these factors disrupt the body’s natural temperature regulation system. As the body overheats, brain and organ damage occur, eventually leading to death if emergency care is not administered to reduce body temperature quickly.
Children and Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a particularly serious threat to children. Because children’s bodies are still developing, their temperature regulation and respiratory systems are not as effective at dissipating excess heat as those of an adult. On average, a child’s body will heat up three to five times as quickly as an adult’s, drastically decreasing the time it takes to develop heat stroke and increasing the risks of dehydration, organ damage, and death. Small children, particularly those strapped into car seats, cannot escape their situation, and instead fall unconscious or unresponsive as a result.
Vehicle-Related Heat Stroke
Children who are intentionally or accidentally left in parked cars are at high risk for developing heat stroke. This is because the unique environment inside a car can cause the interior to heat up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the summer within just ten minutes. Cracking a window does not reduce this effect, and children should not be left alone inside running vehicles for additional safety reasons.
Sunrise Children’s Hospital wants your child to enjoy a safe and healthy summer. Our children’s hospital serving Las Vegas offers complete pediatric care, including children’s emergency care, trauma care, and surgery. You can find more health and safety information on our website, or call (702) 233-5437 to speak with a registered nurse .