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Hot Cars Can Kill: 20 Children Already Dead in 2013

Discussion in 'Emergency Medicine' started by Egyptian Doctor, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

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    As a heat wave ripples across the country, hitting the I-95 corridor this week, temperatures will continue to soar. Accompanying the intense heat is an impending danger, as 20 children have died of heat stroke from being left in cars so far this year in the United States.

    Last year 33 children died, according to Jan Null, CCM at San Francisco University.

    "This is still 33 too many," Null said. Despite being four less than the yearly average of 37 children heatstroke deaths, according to Null's research, typically, 52 percent of these deaths are due to a caregiver forgetting a child in a car, and thus many could be prevented.

    The heating dynamics of cars are much different than those of other forms of transportation. The windows of a car act as a catalysts for rapid temperature increases inside the vehicle.

    "There are a lot of windows in cars. These windows let in a lot of sunlight and when that sunlight is absorbed, it becomes trapped inside the car," AccuWeather Meteorologist Michael Pigott said. "The temperature inside the car can become twice that of the temperature outside."

    Most people believe that the color of the car is the biggest factor in determining which cars heat up most rapidly, but it is actually the color of the car's interior that is the determining factor. Cars with dark interior, such as black leather, heat up the quickest.

    Other parts of a car also aid in increasing the car's interior temperature, including the steering wheel and the dashboard. Due to their dark colors, steering wheels and dashboards can hit temperatures up to 200 degrees when sitting stationary in the sun. They then radiate their own heat and further heighten a car's temperature.

    "When a child is left in a car, there is a 50/50 percent chance that they will be left on the sunny side of the car," Null said. This is especially dangerous because children, unlike adults, have not yet developed the ability to cool themselves off.

    "Children heat up three to four times faster than adults," Null said.

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