Child Heatstroke

You’ve spent hours researching car seats, and selected the right choice for your family. Did you know there are other dangers in and around your vehicle that could seriously harm or even be fatal to your child? As the seasons change and as we enter into spring and summer we need to talk about heatstroke.


Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children. Vehicle heatstroke occurs when a child is left in a hot vehicle, allowing for the child’s temperature to rise in a quick and deadly manner. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and if it rises to above 107 degrees, that can be lethal.

Unfortunately, even great parents can forget a child in the back seat. Other risk factors include caregivers who aren’t used to having kids as passengers or whose routine suddenly changes. Whether you’re a parent, caregiver, or bystander of a child left in a car, it’s vitally important to understand children are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults.

Prevention Tips

  1. Look Before You Lock – Make it a habit to look before you lock!
    • Always check the back seats of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
    • Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
    • If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
  2. Keep in mind a child’s sensitivity to heat
    • In 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees.
    • Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside your car can reach 110 degrees.
    • A child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
  3. Understand the potential consequences of kids in hot cars.
    • Severe injury or death
    • Being arrested and jailed
    • A lifetime of regret
  4. Keep your vehicle locked and keep your keys out of reach.
    • Nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.
  5. TAKE ACTION if you notice a child alone in a car! Protecting children is everyone’s business. Here’s what you can do:
    • Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return
    • If the child is not responsive or is in distress, immediately; call 911, get the child out of the car, spray the child with water (not in an ice bath).
  6. Warning Signs of Heatstroke
    • Red, hot and moist or dry skin
    • No sweating
    • Strong, rapid pulse or slow, weak pulse
    • Nausea
    • Confusion or strange behavior

What You Need to Know, Now

  • It is never okay to leave a child alone in or around a car for any reason.
  • Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. An outside temperature in the mid-60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The inside temperature of your car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes.
  • Heatstroke does not only occur during the summertime or in the Sun Belt States. This deadly issue can occur at any time of year, in any weather condition, in any community—for any parent.

For more information see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Family Education & Support team is here to provide resources and trainings for car seat safety and childhood development. Get more details by visiting HelpingServices.org/Family or give us a call at 563-387-1720.

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