July 31, National Heatstroke Prevention Day: Car-Related Heat Stroke a Serious Risk for Children in Summer Months


By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert

At least 24 children have died this summer on account of heat stroke after being left inside hot vehicles. It goes without saying that hot cars pose a serious risk of injury to children and all parents are urged to immediately remove children from vehicles once completely stopped to avoid the risk of heat stroke, and worse, death.

The strong caution follows on the heels of a 4-month-old boy who died earlier this week after being left in a hot car overnight in El Cajon, Calif. According to reports, 80 degree weather caused the interior of the vehicle to swell into astronomically hot temperatures, leading to the infant’s death. The parents of the child were

arrested and charged

with willful cruelty to a child resulting in injury or death.

On average, 38 children die each year from being left in hot cars.

Federal safety officials are increasing awareness on the problem and have declared July 31 National Heatstroke Prevention Day.

“I’m deeply concerned that we will lose more children to a cause that is 100 percent preventable,” David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

wrote today

on Fast Lane, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Transportation. “If we can increase awareness of the dangers of heatstroke and spread easy-to-follow prevention tips, we can reduce the number of these incidents and their tragic consequences.”


Many parents mistakenly assume that a mild day couldn’t possibly produce deadly temperatures inside a vehicle. That assumption couldn’t be further than the truth.

According to the

Weather Channel

, in 90 degree summer weather, a vehicle can reach 109 degrees in just 10 minutes. Give it just 10 minutes more, and the interior of a vehicle can reach 119 degrees. In just 90 minutes – that’s the likely equivalent of a trip into the grocery store – the interior of a vehicle can nearly reach an incredible 140 degrees.

There’s no doubt that exposure to extreme temperatures can lead to serious health risks to children and adults including death. It’s never been more important to remove children, pets and elderly from hot vehicles as soon as possible.


The body temperature of a child can increase five times faster than an adult in hot weather, so please remember to:

Always remove children from stopped vehicles immediately.

Shade won’t significantly help. One minute is too long. A cracked window doesn’t reduce your child’s risk of heat stroke or death. Remove your kids right away.

Always ask, “Where’s baby?”

Use a stuffed animal in the front seat to remind yourself to remove your child from his or her car seat. It may sound absurd to remind yourself of your child, but it’s often enough that people get used to a certain routine, forgetting children in the car in the process. It wasn’t long ago that a Sacramento couple

forgot their daughter

in the back seat after a horrible case of miscommunication. The child has since recovered but still suffers from brain damage. Don’t let it happen to you!

Never let kids play inside the vehicle.

Even if it’s parked in the shade, leaving your children free to play in the interior of the vehicle is unsafe. It only takes 15 minutes for a child to die in extreme heat.

Call 9-11 if you spot a child locked inside a vehicle.

Do not hesitate to call for emergency help should you encounter a child locked inside a vehicle. Call 9-11 and do whatever you can to safely remove the child if you are able to do so.

About Michael Pines

Michael Pines is a personal injury attorney at the

Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC

in San Diego, California. He is an accident and injury prevention expert, on a campaign to end senseless injury one article at a time. Catch Mike on