Preventing Pediatric Heatstroke In a Car

From an interview with
Dr. Brittany Benjamin
McLeod Pediatric Associates of Florence

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show more than 950 children have died of heatstroke over the past 25 years, because they were left or became trapped in a hot car. It’s important for everyone to understand that children are more vulnerable to heatstroke and that all hot car deaths are preventable. McLeod Pediatrician Dr. Brittany Benjamin explains how you can help prevent heatstroke from happening to a child.

“Heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle related death for children. It occurs when the body cannot cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Young children are especially at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than in adults.

Heat stroke can happen anytime, anywhere, but together we can protect our kids from this preventable tragedy by remembering to ACT:

A is for avoid. Avoid heatstroke related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.
C is for create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and then move it to the front seat when your child’s in the car as a visual reminder.
T is for take action. If you see a child alone in the car, call 9-1-1. One call could save a life.”

Why Cars Heat Up

According to, closed cars get hot quickly because sunlight heats up inside elements, including the dash, upholstery, and steering wheel. Those elements radiate their heat into the air, increasing the ambient temperature inside the car.

The nonprofit consumer organization Consumer Reports conducted several temperature tests inside closed vehicles at its auto test track in Colchester, Conn., to better understand how rapidly the rising cabin temperatures can become unsafe. The experiments were conducted with precision instruments. On a June day when it averaged 61° F outside during the first hour of testing, the inside of a parked car reached more than 105° F. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees.

To learn more about how you can protect your children from preventable injuries, talk to a pediatrician near you.