Heatstroke and Kid’s Left in Cars

Acura ZDX

It seems every summer that we are bombarded with stories concerning children that have been left in hot vehicles and have died. In the past two decades, some 750 U.S. children have died in hot vehicles, according to KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit child safety organization.

Experts explain why it happens. Most of the parents involved aren’t malicious; they are simply busier, under a lot of stress, and often sleep deprived. In virtually all cases, it’s just an accident or slip in judgement. “About half of the time, a parent just forgets the child was in the car,” said Kyran Quinlan, M.D., chair of the Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention for the American Academy of Pediatrics. In other cases, a parent may decide to dash into a store, figuring he/she will be gone just a few minutes, but then gets delayed and returns to the vehicle to find his child has undergone heatstroke.

And it can happen quickly. Kids overheat up to five times more quickly than adults do, according to the NHTSA. And the temperature inside a vehicle can rise more than 20 degrees in just 10 minutes on a hot day. So if it’s 75 degrees initially, the temperature inside could get to 110 in just 20 minutes. And children die when their body temperatures reach 107. I happens fast.

A natural question is should automakers step up in-vehicle technology? Do we need government regulation? The debate is ongoing, but the answers are not yet clear. In the meantime, many companies have offered up solutions. For instance, a free app, Baby Reminder, has the user set the day and time intervals during which children are usually driven. The app monitors the user’s driving and after the typical drop-off time, sends a reminder alert. Its simple but it works. Remember the Kids is an iPhone app that senses when a car has stopped moving for more than 3 minutes and asks the driver if they remembered the kids. The bottom line for these phone apps is that they are wonderful to use as extra safety measures but they aren’t a reliable way to eliminate the problem.

Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org, insists that car makers have solved many technical safety issues and they have the technical resources to solve this one, too. However, no such technology seems to be in the offing soon, according to an informal poll of major carmakers and university-based centers for automotive research. However, help may be on the way from the NHTSA. In a 2014 statement, NHTSA said it “continues to study technologies to help prevent heatstroke deaths. The agency expects to issue an additional product evaluation in the coming months.”

Whatever strategies parents decide to use, Fennell said, awareness and action are key to minimizing the risk. “The worst thing you can do is think, ‘This can never happen to me.

Source: Brown Daub Chrysler Dodge