This year the National Weather Service is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to heighten child vehicular heatstroke awareness and prevention. Heatstroke in vehicles is the leading cause of all non-crash-related fatalities involving children 14 and younger (61%). Unfortunately, each year an average of 38 children die as a result of being left enclosed in parked vehicles.
Through May 2013 there has already been one reported child death due to heatstroke suffered in an unattended vehicle. However, the warmest days of summer are still ahead. There were at least 32 child deaths in 2012 due to heatstroke (hyperthermia) after being left in or having gained access to open vehicles. Sadly, there have been at least 560 documented cases of heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles since 1998. The following circumstances were the primary reasons for child heatstroke deaths:
(Information courtesy of ggweather.com)
VEHICLE HEATING DYNAMICS
The atmosphere and the windows of a car are relatively “transparent” to the sun’s shortwave radiation (yellow in figure below) and are warmed little. However, this shortwave energy does heat objects that it strikes. For example, a dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to over 200 degrees F.
These objects (e.g., dashboard, steering wheel, childseat) heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection and also give off longwave radiation (red) which is very efficient at warming the air trapped inside a vehicle. Even on days with temperatures in the 70s, temperatures inside an enclosed vehicle can quickly rise to life-threatening levels. Research shows that "cracking" the windows has little effect in reducing heat trapped inside the vehicle.
|On an 80 degree day it only takes 10 minutes for the
temperature inside an enclosed vehicle to rise
to nearly 100 degrees.
The temperature in an enclosed vehicle can approach
CHILD SAFETY TIPS
Children are much more sensitive to rising temperatures than adults, so pay close attention to these safety tips during all 4 seasons.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has outreach and media toolkits available at:
To download the National Weather Service logos for "Beat the Heat, Check the Back Seat", visit: