Children alone in cars can be deadly

Kids bodies heat up five times faster than adults

Loma Linda, Calif. - A demonstration outside Loma Linda Children's Hospital showed that after just 30 minutes inside a parked car in the heat, butter melts, vegetables wilt, and ice cream quickly turns to soup.

The damage done to a child left alone in the same scenario can be fatal.

"When a child's internal temperature hits 104 degrees, internal organs start shutting down," said Clark Morrow, Crime Prevention Coordinator for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "When a child's temperature reaches 107 degrees, fatalities can occur."

In the last 15 years, 580 children have died nationwide from heat stroke inside a parked car. Fifty-two percent of those children were forgotten by their caregiver, 29 percent were playing in an unattended vehicle, and 18 percent of them were intentionally left in the car.

"Never leave a child alone in a car," Morrow said. "Not even for one minute."

Thermometers measuring the outdoor temperature, and the temperature inside a white mini-van provided a powerful image.  The outside temperature was 85 degrees, and within 30 minutes, the inside of the car heated up to 132 degrees.

"It's in a closed environment," Loma Linda Children's Hospital Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Don Moores, said. "It is a relatively rapid exposure to heat."

Moores and Morrow both noted that children in particular, are not equipped to deal with the extreme heat.

"Young children are particularly at risk," Morrow said. "Their bodies heat up faster than the bodies of adults when exposed to extreme heat. Five times faster than that of an adult."

The Safe Kids organization reminds people that tragedies can be prevented by looking in the back seat before you lock your car. You can remind yourself by putting your cell phone or bag in the back seat. And if you see a child alone in a car, call 911.

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