Summer Safety: Prevent Hot Car Deaths

Summer is here and for many of us it’s a time to kick back, relax and enjoy the hot summer days. However, it’s important to remember that those hot summer days can be dangerous, especially to children, who are more susceptible to the heat. One of the places kids are most vulnerable are in hot cars.

Hot Cars and Kids

Dr. Mark Muir, the trauma medical director at University Health, said, “Kids are smaller and they have less surface area so they can’t get rid of heat as quickly. Adults, we sweat, we get rid of heat a lot faster. In kids, it just accumulates and skyrockets.”

This means leaving them in alone in a hot car, even for a few minutes, can put them in immense danger.

“When the sun is out, even on cloudy days, the inside of the car can become much hotter than the temperature outside,” said Jennifer Northway, director of Injury Prevention at University Health. “Even on an 80-degree day, the inside of a closed car can quickly exceed 100 degrees. Cracking a window does not help keep the inside of a car cool.”

Muir says that kids left in hot cars “Can become severely dehydrated and their kidneys can start to shut down. But even more concerning is it can actually cause brain damage.”

What Can I Do to Prevent Hot Car Deaths?

Hot car deaths are 100% preventable. Keep these tips in mind this summer:

  • Remember to never leave a child alone in the car for any length of time
  • Remind your family, friends and neighbors to never leave their kids in a hot car 
  • Share information by posting flyers at your child’s nursery, school or on social media
  • Purchase a sensor designed to help caregivers remember their children in hot cars
  • Set a reminder for yourself when traveling

“Set your purse, your briefcase, your cell phone, your backpack, something by the child in the backseat so you won’t forget when you get out,” Muir said.

SafeKids San Antonio and University Health

SafeKids San Antonio is a coalition of almost 30 members in San Antonio and is led by University Health. The purpose of this coalition is to keep kids in the community safe, healthy and injury-free.

SafeKids has resources on its website with more tips on preventing heat-related injuries this summer.


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