Don’t count on a shady parking spot to save a child left in the back seat on a hot day.
Never leave anything alive inside a car on a hot day, a new research paper is emphasizing.
‘Evaluating the impact of solar radiation on pediatric heat balance within enclosed, hot vehicles’, by researchers Jennifer K. Vanos ORCID Icon, Ariane Middel ORCID Icon, Michelle N. Poletti & Nancy J. Selover, was published online May 23red, 2018.
An analysis of temperatures inside parked cars reveals that a toddler in a sunbathed vehicle would reach lethal body temperatures faster than one left in the shade. But even in a shaded car, a child could die from overheating within a few hours, researchers report online May 23 in Temperature.
Researchers tracked temps inside three cars — a sedan, economy car and minivan — that were parked in the sun, and another three parked in the shade. Each car started at the outdoor air temperature or 29.4° Celsius, whichever was cooler. On days hotter than 38° C (about 100° Fahrenheit), it took an hour for the average ambient temperature inside the shaded vehicles to reach 38.3° C. For cars in the sun, the inside temperature hit a scorching 46.7° C in an hour, with surfaces such as steering wheels, dashboards and seat covers getting even hotter.
The researchers then simulated how the body temperature of a 2-year-old would increase under those conditions. On average, a toddler’s body would reach the potentially lethal temperature of 40° C (104° F) after about 1.4 hours in the sun and about 2.4 hours in the shade. It happened faster in some cars than others — a child left in a sunbaked sedan could die from overheating in just an hour.
The Canadian Safety Council states that no statistics are available for Canadian cases.
Car or smartphone alerts reminding drivers to check the back seat could help prevent these deaths, says coauthor Jennifer Vanos, an extreme heat and public health researcher at the University of California, San Diego.
The Canada Safety Council suggests making a habit of placing your cell phone, purse or wallet in the back seat — a strategy that requires you to turn around and check the back seat whenever you leave the vehicle.
Look twice before locking. Always keep cars locked while in garages or driveways to prevent children and animals from inadvertently becoming trapped.
If you come across a child or animal in distress that has been left in a hot vehicle, call 9-1-1. Immediately.
Never leave a child or pet alone in a vehicle, even for a few minutes. To learn more, find the research here: