Beat the Heat, Check the Backseat! A quick check could save your child's life!
The following information is from the NWS Heat Safety website. The San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences and Golden Gate Weather Services have additional information about hyperthemia deaths of children in vehicles (use of this website does not imply NWS endorsement of services provided by Golden Gate Weather Services).
When the body heats too quickly to cool itself safely, or when you lose too much fluid or salt through dehydration or sweating, your body temperature rises and heat-related illness may develop. Heat disorders share one common feature: the individual has been in the heat too long or exercised too much for his or her age and physical condition.
Studies indicate that, other things being equal, the severity of heat disorders tends to increase with age. Conditions that cause heat cramps in a 17-year-old may result in heat exhaustion in someone 40 years old, and in heat stroke in a person over 60. Sunburn, with its ultraviolet radiation burns, can significantly retard the skin's ability to shed excess heat. Acclimatization has to do with adjusting sweat-salt concentrations, among other things. The idea is to lose enough water to regulate body temperature, with the least possible chemical disturbance--salt depletion.
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.
Graph courtesy of San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences and Golden Gate Weather Services. Use of this graph does not imply NWS endorsement of services provided by Golden Gate Weather Services.
Shown below is a time lapse photo of a thermometer reading in a car over a period of less than an hour. As the photograph shows, in just over 2 minutes the car went from a safe temperature to 94.3°F. These photos demonstrate just how quickly a vehicle can become a death trap for a child.
CLICK HERE FOR ANIMATION (700K)
( Hi-Res ~ 2.5 mb.WMV file)
0 min, 10 min, 20 min, 30 min, 40 min, 50 min, 60 min
Animation Courtesy of General Motors and Golden Gate Weather Services. Use of this animation does not imply NWS endorsement of services provided by General Motors and Golden Gate Weather Services.
Hyperthermia deaths aren't confined to summer months. They also happen during the spring and fall. Below are some examples.
Adults are in danger too. On July 12, 2001, a man died of heatstroke after falling asleep in his car with the windows rolled up in the parking lot of a supermarket in Hinds County, MS.
The atmosphere and the windows of a car are relatively transparent to the sun’s shortwave radiation (yellow in figure below) and are warmed little. This shortwave energy, however, does heat objects it strikes. For example, a dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180°F to more than 200°F. These objects, e.g., dashboard, steering wheel, childseat, heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection and give off longwave radiation (infrared), which efficiently warms the air trapped inside a vehicle.
Child Safety Tips
Adult Heat Wave Safety Tips