‘Look Before You Lock': Preventing Hot Car Deaths

As temperatures rise, so does the number of child and pet deaths in hot cars.

NBC Universal, Inc.

It's every parent's worst nightmare, and it happens more often than you'd think.

Vehicular heatstroke occurs when a person dies from being in a hot car.

Children are more often victims because their bodies can overheat up to five times faster than that of an adult.

An average of 38 children across the county die from vehicular heatstroke every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two people have died so far in 2022.

In California, the average is two deaths per year.

Pets are also more susceptible to vehicular heatstroke because of their inability to sweat, even when a window is cracked open.

But why do cars get so extremely hot in the sun?

When sunlight penetrates car windows, it creates long wave radiation that essentially turns your car into an oven, NBC4 meteorologist Belen De Leon explained.

The temperature changes are drastic.

After 10 minutes, 80-degree weather can increase the temperature in the car to 99 degrees, De Leon said.

Temperatures inside the vehicle can rise to 123 degrees after an hour has passed in the same weather conditions.

As outdoor temperatures rise to the 90s and triple digits, it could reach up to 170 degrees in your car.

De Leon suggests implementing the following habits to prevent hot car tragedies:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a car
  • Look before you lock
  • If you see a child in a hot car, call 911

For more information about vehicular heatstroke and child safety, click here.

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