Children left alone in vehicles during hot weather can become ill or die. Vehicles can become very hot in a matter of minutes, even if windows are left open. When the outside temperature is 34 degrees Celsius, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 52 degrees Celsius in 10-20 minutes.
Children are especially vulnerable to overheating and developing a heat-related illness such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Extreme heat affects infants and young children quickly because of their physical size. Babies and children sweat less, reducing their bodies’ ability to cool down. Children can go into shock quickly. Heat can also make existing illnesses worse.
There are no national statistics on hyperthermia deaths in Canada. Although considered rare parents and caregivers should be aware that hyperthermia deaths can happen. In 2018, two young children (ages 3 and 6 months) died from hyperthermia after being a left in a vehicle. In the United States, there is an average of 37 deaths each year related to vehicular hyperthermia. Many of these parents reported that they were “only gone for a minute” or that they forgot their children were in the vehicle.
Heat-related vehicle deaths happen because: