Child Fatalities from Heatstroke in Cars [Trends + Locations]

On average, there are 37 child deaths from heatstroke in cars annually across the United States. Most of these tragic child fatalities from heatstroke are preventable.

D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • 143 children died from heatstroke in cars across the United States in just four years
  • Children in states in the American South and Sunbelt are most at risk
  • Heatstroke is the cause of 61 percent of non-crash-fatalities in children under 14

Every year, more than 35 children across the United States die from heatstroke suffered while in vehicles. We all know that one of the most tragic things anyone can experience is the death of a child. And that tragedy is compounded when that death was preventable.

Help put an end to this tragedy, especially given that heatstroke suffered in vehicles are 100% preventable.

That’s why it’s important to know why heatstroke happens, where it’s most likely to affect children riding in cars, and how to prevent it. We’ve studied the sad phenomenon of child fatalities from heatstroke in cars before, and we’re here not only to update that information given the effects of climate change but also to dive deeper into the phenomenon of heatstroke.

Child Fatalities from Heatstroke in Cars

Whether you have a child or are merely a driver who may come across a child suffering from heatstroke while on the road, read on to find out all you can about heatstroke in cars, including how to prevent it and how, if necessary, to treat it.

Heatstroke in Vehicles: Where Children are Most At Risk

There are a lot of questions to ask when it comes to children and vehicles.

Sadly, children are especially susceptible to heatstroke while in vehicles, so we need to ask questions about that, too. A single child death resulting from heatstroke suffered while in a vehicle is already one fatality too many. But this phenomenon is all-too-rampant across the United States.

Take South Carolina, for instance. In 2018 alone, eight children died across the Palmetto State from heatstroke they suffered while in a vehicle.

The map below shows the states where children are historically most at risk for heatstroke in a car.

States where children are most at-risk to die from heatstroke in vehicles.

As you can see, these states mostly span the South and Sunbelt from coast to coast. That is not coincidental.

These states have the highest average temperatures in the United States, and these temperatures are only becoming more extreme given the effects of global climate change. These states also have some of the lowest average incomes in the nation. This leads to a lot of implications, from housing insecurity to finding auto insurance for low-income families.

Let’s take a closer look at the state-by-state statistics surrounding children dying from heatstroke while in a vehicle. In the table below, we’ve gathered the 28 states where a child died under these conditions between 2015 and 2018, including the total number of such fatalities, the average age of the children in months, and the average temperature of incident days in Fahrenheit.

States Where Children Have Died from Vehicle Heatstrokes: 2015-2018
StateTotal Child DeathsAvg. Age (Months)Avg. Temperature
South Carolina83790.1
North Carolina51984.9
New York23785.0
West Virginia11984.0
New Mexico12391.5

As you can see, too many children die as a result of heatstroke suffered while in a vehicle.

143 children, in fact, died between 2015 and 2018, a statistic made even sadder knowing that heatstroke is 100 percent preventable. Ten or more children died in this three-year period in Texas, Florida, and Georgia.

But before we move on to discussing what heatstroke is and how to both prevent and treat it If necessary, let’s take a look at an ugly fact: Heatstroke is likely to rise as global temperatures increased under climate change.

2020 Predicted to Have Hottest Temperatures on Record

Since 1880, federal scientists have tracked global temperatures. Given the effects of climate change, these temperatures have been steadily increasing since the 1980s. In the graph below, you can see how temperatures have changed from the average temperature since 1880.

View as image

As you can see, temperatures have been rising above previous averages substantially, especially since the late 1990s. And that rise isn’t about to stop, either, scientists believe.

The National Centers for Environmental Information of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that more likely than not, 2020 will be the hottest year on record.

How sure are they, you might be wondering? Well, the NOAA reports that:

“Based on current anomalies and historical global annual temperature readings, it appears that it is virtually certain that 2020 will be a top 10 year, consistent with a strong propensity since 1988.”

Their calculations suggest that 2020 faces a:

  • 74.67 percent chance of becoming the warmest year
  • 99.94 percent chance of being a top five year
  • A greater than 99.99 percent chance of being a top 10 year
  • 95 percent chance of being the first to fourth warmest year

Since 1980, the NOAA notes that each year has consistently been progressing to be a top 10 year for high global temperatures. In the graph below, you can see how global temperatures have increased since 1880 against the 20th century average.

Currently, the hottest year on record is 2016, which saw global temperatures rise 2.75 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average.

But so far, 2020 is set to outpace even the record-breaking 2016. January 2020 was the hottest January on record, and The Guardian reports that:

“Heat records have been broken from the Antarctic to Greenland since January, which has surprised many scientists because this is not an El Niño year, the phenomenon usually associated with high temperatures.”

And it’s not just yearly average temperature rises that scientists are tracking. In the graph below, you can see the number of days per year that rise well above the average temperature since tracking began in 1880.

View as image

2019, the latest record year available, ranks second only to 2016 in most days highly deviant from the temperature average tracked by the NOAA. This is another startling effect of climate change that ultimately affects us all.

Car insurance companies are picking up on these trends and are rewarding people who “go green.” There are several money-saving perks for driving an eco-friendly car.

A variety of climate-related phenomenons, including heatstroke, lead to higher claims and negatively affect their bottom line. Temperatures are one of the leading indicators of climate change. As you can see in the video below, Antarctica recently had its hottest day ever, with temperatures rising to nearly 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

With higher and higher temperatures on the horizon, the propensity for heatstroke only increases. That’s why we’re expanding our research on the states with child fatalities from heatstroke in cars. This is especially true for our most vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and, the focus of this article, children. Let’s take a closer look at what heatstroke actually is.

What is heatstroke?

Good question. According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. The condition is most common in the summer months.”

Children’s bodies heat up three to five times faster than the bodies of adults, so they are especially at risk from suffering heatstroke. Since particularly young children can’t easily communicate or open a car door, vehicles are common sites for them to face heatstroke.

Scary fact: A car only takes 10 minutes to increase 20 degrees in temperature.

The Mayo Clinic reiterates that age is an increasing risk factor for heatstroke. Other increasing risk factors include a lack of air conditioning, of particular concern in vehicles, and certain medications, of particular concern when it comes to children.

What are the symptoms of heatstroke?

For all of us to be able to step in and take action when it comes to heatstroke, we need to know what the symptoms are. This knowledge is especially important for parents and other caretakers, or anyone who may come across a child in public who can’t communicate that they are suffering from heatstroke on their own.

Symptoms of heatstroke.

Let’s take a closer look at these symptoms with help from the Mayo Clinic.

  • High body temperature – A core body temperature of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) or higher, obtained with a rectal thermometer, is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior – Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures, and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating – In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting – You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin – Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing – Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate – Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache – Your head may throb.

How do you treat heatstroke?

Heatstroke can kill a child in a matter of mere minutes. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms and to take treatment action immediately.

“Immediate initiation of rapid and effective cooling is crucial in a patient with heatstroke,” explains Dr. James L. Glazer of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), continuing:

“Prompt reversal of hyperthermia is the cornerstone of heatstroke treatment. Patients who present with suspected heatstroke in a community environment should be stabilized in a cool, shady area and transferred to a care facility.”

Once at a care facility, sufferers of heatstroke face a variety of external and internal cooling treatment options. External treatments include cool water mists and ice baths, while internal treatments include gastric, bladder, and rectal cold-water lavage; peritoneal and thoracic lavage in extreme cases; and cardiopulmonary bypass in the rarest and most pressing cases.

In short: If you see anyone suffering a potential heatstroke, get them to a cool, shady area and call 911 immediately.

How do you prevent heatstroke?

Fatalities from heatstroke are tragic in large part because heatstroke Is easily preventable, especially when it comes to children dying from heatstroke in cars.

First and foremost, we can prevent heatstroke by never leaving anyone in a parked car, especially a child. The Mayo Clinic explains that:

“When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes. It’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in shade. When your car is parked, keep it locked to prevent a child from getting inside.”

The Mayo Clinic also recommends the following general heatstroke preventative measures:

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won’t allow your body to cool properly.
  • Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, so protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply every two hours—or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. If you can’t avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids, and rest frequently in a cool spot. Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
  • Get acclimated. Limit time spent working or exercising in heat until you’re conditioned to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.
  • Be cautious if you’re at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat, and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency.

The video below from Utah’s Intermountain Healthcare provides some five helpful ways for preventing heatstroke.

To reiterate: Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, especially if temperatures point to an increased risk of heatstroke. In many states across the nation, adults who leave a child in a vehicle can be held legally responsible.

States Laws Concerning Children and Cars

In 2017 the U.S. Congress pushed for a bill called the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats (HOT CARS) Act of 2017. We hope more is done on the federal level to prevent the tragedy of children dying from heatstroke in cars, but much of that responsibility falls to individual states.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that fewer than half the states in the country have laws that penalize responsible adults for leaving a child in a hot car. As pressure mounts in state legislatures to pass stricter laws against such potential abuse, we expect this number to rise.

So which states currently have laws on the books regarding children left in vehicles? According to the nonprofit advocacy group Kids and Cars, 19 states have made it illegal to leave a child unattended in a car.

19 States Where Children Cannot be Left in Vehicles

Penalties vary state to state, but many include fines, even if the child is not harmed In any way. If the child does become harmed as a result of being left in a car alone, the responsible adult can face charges of neglect, which can include a loss of parental rights, fines, and jail time.

Whether or not your state has a law regulating leaving children unattended in a vehicle, it’s never a good idea to leave a child alone in a car.

Interested in learning about the 10 states with the worst drivers in the United States? We’ve found that many of them overlap with the states where children perish from heatstroke suffered in vehicles.

Children & Heatstroke in Cars: Pro Advice

We asked a variety of relevant professionals—from parents to public safety experts—about the frightening phenomenon of children dying from heatstroke suffered while in a vehicle. Read on to find out what they had to share, much of which surprised and shocked us, including a first-hand account of a near-death heatstroke experience.

Advice from experts around the country.

How and why are children more at risk for heatstroke?
“According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), children are more susceptible to heatstroke because of a greater surface area to body mass ratio, a lower rate of sweating, and a slower rate of acclimatization to heat and hot weather conditions.”

Why are cars a location where children are especially vulnerable to suffer heatstroke?
“Cars are a place where children are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke because cars superheat quickly.

Even with the car windows cracked open to a depth of two inches wide, and the car parked in shade, the temperature inside the car can reach lethal degrees.

And it doesn’t even take long: Every 10–20 minutes, the internal temperature of a car rises 20 degrees. It takes less than an hour for a sleeping baby in the backseat of a car to succumb to these fast-rising heat levels.”

How can you tell a child is suffering from heatstroke?
“The symptoms of heatstroke, as separate from heat exhaustion, include:

  • Body temperature of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) or higher
  • Altered mental state or behavior changes. The child may be confused, agitated, or irritable, with slurred speech, delirium, or even seizures and coma
  • Changes in sweating patterns
  • Skin hot and dry to the touch
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushing
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Racing heart
  • Headache”

How can we prevent heatstroke in children?
“To prevent heatstroke in children, don’t keep them out of doors for lengthy periods in hot humid weather. If you must be out of doors, pop into an air-conditioned building or restaurant for frequent breaks, whenever possible.

If it’s hot, don’t have small children walk in the heat. Push them in strollers, even if your child seems too old for this. Give kids sports drinks like Gatorade to help replace any salts and fluids they lose as they sweat.

Never leave children in a closed car, even if it’s just for a few minutes, as car temperatures can climb 11° C (20° F) in 10 minutes! Stay inside as much as possible and use air conditioning.

If children must be outside, make sure they wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing of natural fabrics, such as cotton, and have them wear wide-brimmed hats. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on children who must be out of doors and reapply often.

Have children drink at least eight glasses of water or whatever they like to drink, every day. Don’t give kids drinks with caffeine, for instance, iced tea or cola. Caffeine causes the body to lose fluids.

If children must be outside and will be engaging in strenuous physical activity, have them drink 750 ml (1.25 pints) of liquid two hours before leaving and another 225 ml (8 ounces) of water or a sports drink before beginning the activity. When they exercise or hike, children should top this up with 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes, even if they say they aren’t thirsty.”

How do we treat heatstroke in children?
“Heatstroke is treated by bringing down the temperature of the body, for instance by immersing the body in cold water or even misting the body with cool water as the body is fanned with warm air. In some cases, the sufferer may be packed with ice or cooling blankets.

In addition to these measures, doctors may administer medications such as muscle relaxants to stop shivering, as shivering raises body temperature.”

What is your community or state doing to address the problem of children being left in cars, especially during high temperature times?
“At Kars4Kids, we developed a free app, Kars4Kids Safety, to alert parents to check and make sure they haven’t left a child sleeping in the backseat of a car.

There’s a lot of resistance to the idea that parents could ‘forget’ their children, leaving them behind in a car. We feel that debating this idea is beside the point. Let’s dot every i and cross every t to ensure that every parent’s worst nightmare doesn’t happen. If we save even one baby by using an app, isn’t that all that counts?”

How is climate change affecting heatstroke risk?
“It isn’t. The temperature in a parked car rises even in mild temperatures. It’s important to know this, because you might think: He’s sleeping so nicely and it’s so nice and shady parked here under this tree. I’ll just pop in and say hi to a friend, or make a quick purchase in a shop, while baby naps in the car.

This type of thinking is deadly.

It is true that more babies die in hot car deaths in summer and in hot-weather states. But not to recognize that hot car deaths happen in cooler climes is a deadly kind of thinking. Irresponsible, too.”

Do you have any personal stories to share about children and heatstroke?
“A child that attended daycare with my grandchildren died as a result of climbing into the family car without the parents realizing it. By the time they found the child, less than an hour later, the child had died of heatstroke. The family is devastated, and it has been very difficult to explain to the victims’ small friends, including my grandchildren, why they can’t see their friend anymore.

Please make sure that children don’t have access to any car—yours or a neighbor’s. Children are endlessly curious. Children need constant supervision, even in the safest of neighborhoods.”

Varda Meyers Epstein Parenting Expert and Writer at Kars4Kids. Kars4Kids has raised over $100 million for mentoring programs since 1995.

Varda Meyers Epstein is a parenting expert and writer at Kars4Kids.
Kars4Kids has raised over $100 million for mentoring programs since 1995.

How and why are children more at risk for heatstroke?
“Children are obviously much smaller than adults, which means they are naturally more susceptible to changes in temperature. Their bodies have to work harder to regulate body temperature. Imagine a five-gallon cooler full of ice, vs. a 20-gallon cooler. The 20-gallon cooler will be better at retaining a consistent temperature and the ice will melt much slower.”

How can you tell a child is suffering from heatstroke?
“Both heatstroke and heat exhaustion are concerns that parents should be aware of. However, the signs of each are shockingly different.

The signs of heat exhaustion are a warning that a heat stroke may be coming. The signs of heat exhaustion are: excessive sweating, cool/clammy skin, pale complexion, and a rapid, weak pulse. Symptoms may also include nausea and cramps.

As heat exhaustion progresses into heatstroke, some major changes occur. These signs include: sudden rise in body temperature, sweating may stop/dry skin will occur, skin becomes red rather than pale, and the pulse may weaken.

Obviously, the conflicting signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be confusing. In my experience, the most obvious sign of either is overly pale or red skin.”

How can parents prevent heatstroke in children?
“When attempting to prevent heatstroke in children, knowledge is key. Pay attention to the early warning signs of heat exhaustion. Be sure that you advocate for drinking plenty of water, often.

I recommend taking a first aid or basic medical training course.

Last year, I took North Carolina’s EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) course through a local program. Many states have similar courses that are relatively inexpensive. I paid around $200 to attend the eight-week (60-hour) course I took.

If your state does not offer an EMR course, EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) courses are available in any state. Although an EMT course may be a bit more intensive (120 hours or so), learning how to recognize and treat medical emergencies, especially those of your children, is simply invaluable.”

Do you have any personal stories to share about children and heatstroke?
“I have not seen anyone else experiencing a heat emergency. However, when I was 16, I worked as a lifeguard at a local water park. As I scanned the water, each glint of light off the water created a blind spot in my vision.

Soon enough, all I could see was bright, white light. I was blind and slightly disoriented. Fortunately, my booth had an emergency phone within arm’s reach and my supervisor came quickly. She immediately saw my pale complexion and gave me some water. Within seconds, my vision returned, and I was back at work.

I will never forget that experience. I went from seeing, to being blind, to seeing again within a few minutes. All because I didn’t drink quite enough water that day! Thankfully, someone near me was able to quickly recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and respond appropriately.”

Douglas Dedrick is the founder and lead researcher of Healing Law is an organization dedicated to making law accessible for all.

Douglas Dedrick is the founder and lead researcher of
Healing Law is an organization dedicated to making law accessible for all.

“Living in California, heatstroke is something I honestly do think about a lot. Even when it’s not that hot outside, I know it doesn’t take long before the inside of a locked car becomes sweltering. The sun is always shining in California and that sun heats things up quickly.

That’s why it’s so important to never leave your child behind in your car, no matter if it’s running or not. Even if you leave your vehicle running, the battery could die. Not to mention, someone could steal the vehicle while your child is sitting in it.

I’m personally a fan of auto manufacturers who’ve been going out of their way to make rear-seat occupant alert systems standard on their vehicles.

The system will remind you to check your backseat before exiting. It can help prevent you from being absent-minded and making a terrible mistake.

The sad reality is that far too many children die in hot cars each year and any layer of protection against that is beneficial. It’s also important for people to be on the lookout for children who might be stuck in the backseat of a hot car.

I know as a mom myself, I’m constantly scanning the windows of cars as I enter places. I always want to serve as an extra set of eyes to help a child if need be. I think it’s everyone’s duty to be on the lookout for children in hot cars. The more we pay attention, the more we might be able to help prevent another tragedy.”

Olga Zakharchuk, Founder & CEO of Baby Schooling. Her company provides advice to parents including how to prevent tragic accidents.

Olga Zakharchuk is founder & CEO of Baby Schooling.
Her company provides advice to parents including how to prevent tragic accidents.

How and why are children more at risk for heatstroke?
“Children are more susceptible than adults to heatstroke for a variety of reasons. It is essential for parents to know that children are more prone than adults to heatstroke because their bodies heat up faster than an adult because they are much smaller. Additionally, children are much more active than adults and are therefore at greater risk of overheating.”

Why are cars a location where children are especially vulnerable to suffer heatstroke?
“Automobiles are locations where children are vulnerable to suffer heatstroke because a vehicle is a small enclosed space that can heat up rapidly. Additionally, small children may not have the wherewithal or sophistication to know when and how to open a car door so as to exit a hot vehicle and avoid overheating.”

How can you tell a child is suffering from heatstroke?
“The signs that a child is suffering from heatstroke include nausea, dizziness, nausea, feeling faint, non-responsiveness, headache, and an increased body temperature.”

How can we prevent heatstroke in children?
“The best way to prevent heatstroke in children is to prosecute and publicize these horrible cases of child neglect in which the caregiver does not make sure that young children are properly hydrated or kept away from enclosed spaces on a hot day.

Child neglect is a form of abuse in which the caregiver does not provide adequate care for the child and this lack of care results in physical harm.

A lot of people do not think of ‘neglect’ as active abuse, but child neglect is a form of passive abuse.

Depending on your state, the applicable laws vary considerably on when child neglect is classified as child abuse. In some states, child neglect is a separate crime to abuse, though in a lot of states, it is classified as part of child abuse.

There are states that exempt a caregiver from responsibility for child neglect if they fall below the poverty line, but there is an effort to hold a caregiver to a higher duty specifically in instances in which a child is left in a hot vehicle.”

What is your community or state doing to address the problem of children being left in cars, especially during high-temperature times?
“New York State Senate Bill S5631B makes it unlawful to leave a child less than 10 years old unattended in an automobile under conditions that would present a substantial risk of harm.

Various states have different laws that make it unlawful for a parent, a guardian or any caregiver who is responsible for a child under a certain age from leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.

The various state legislatures have recently passed these types of laws in recognition of the epidemic of deaths that occur every summer when children are left in a car on a hot day.”

How is climate change affecting heatstroke risk?
“Higher temperatures as a result of climate change are likely to lead to more frequent occurrences of heatstroke incidents when children are left in a vehicle.”

David Reischer, Esq. is the founder and CEO of David is a licensed accident attorney with over 15 years of legal experience.

David Reischer, Esq. is the founder and CEO of
David is a licensed accident attorney with over 15 years of legal experience.

Frequently Asked Questions: Children & Heatstroke in Cars

Read on to find out some additional and important information about child fatalities suffered from heatstroke in cars.

#1 – How many children die each year in hot cars?

On average, 37 children die each year across the United States from heatstroke suffered in a vehicle. According to the nonprofit advocacy organization Kids and Cars, that’s one child death every nine days.

#2 – What happens when a child dies in a hot car?

According to health professionals, once a body’s temperature reaches a critical point, which varies by body size and makeup, then the internal mechanisms of that body begin to shut down.

As a child’s body begins to shut down from heatstroke in a vehicle, a child will experience hypothermia, sweating, thirst, general discomfort, flushed skin, increased heart rate, convulsions, fainting, dehydration, weakness, vomiting, and breathlessness. Sadly, heatstroke is a very painful way to die, that’s why it’s important to know the symptoms we discussed above.

#3 – How long does it take for a kid to die in a car?

Temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly peaks in just 10 minutes on an 80-degree day. Think about it: That 10 minutes could be the trip inside a bank or gas station while a child is left in the car by themselves. That’s why it’s important never to leave a child in a car unattended.

#4 – What is the difference between heat exhaustion and heatstroke?

The terms heat exhaustion and heatstroke are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing.

Heat exhaustion is often a step on the way to heatstroke, but it usually means an increased body temperature up to 104 degrees F accompanied by heavy sweating. By the time a child’s body reaches the level of heatstroke, however, their internal cooling systems will shut down and they will most likely not be sweating.

Additionally, heat exhaustion is rather common and usually not deadly, especially when cooling treatments from hydration to moving the child to a shady area are undertaken. Heatstroke, however, usually requires professional medical intervention and can more easily lead to death.

#5 – Can too much sun make a child sick?

The short answer: Yes. Too much sun can lead to heat exhaustion and eventually heatstroke. Severe sunburns, often called sun poisoning, can also affect children much more quickly than adults. When this happens, “the child might experience some fever, body aches, nausea, vomiting and they just don’t feel well,” explains Dr. Lisa Diard, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

#6 – What should you do if you see a child locked in a hot car?

If you come across a child locked in a vehicle and observe signs of heatstroke, you should do whatever it takes to get that child out, including breaking a window. Your first step should always be, however, to call 911.

Previous Study Results


In this study of the phenomenon of children dying from heatstroke suffered in vehicles, we relied on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Centers for Environmental Information of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The Guardian, the Mayo Clinic, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the National Safety Council.

The thorough research process for our comprehensive studies, such as this one on state preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic, includes an analysis of over 10,000 data points for all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia from a variety of government, nonprofit, academic, and industry sources.

Global Land Temperature Deviations 1880 - 2019 - Yearly Rank
Global Land Temperature Deviations 1880 - 2019 - Yearly Rank