Rising temperatures turn cars into greenhouses –
There’s little debate – cars and alcohol can be deadly combinations. Add extreme heat as another contributor to fatalities.
The average age of a car-related hyperthermia death is 24 months; 22 percent of the victims were one year old; 21 percent were two years of age.
Hyperthermia is an acute condition in which the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate, usually through excessive exposure to heat. Among those who work or exercise in extremely high temperatures, hyperthermia is manifested in heat stroke or sunstroke.
“Sunlight can heat car interiors to lethal temperatures in just 30 minutes, even if the weather is relatively cool,” according to NewScientist. “Researchers strongly urge parents not to leave children alone in parked cars, no matter how mild the weather.
“Even on relatively mild-temperature days, the internal temperature of a vehicle left in the sun quickly gets very warm – the average rise in one hour is 22 degrees Celsius,” explains researcher Catherine McLaren of Stanford University. “My guess is that parents would be surprised that leaving children in a car is very much like leaving them in a sauna.”
A 2002 study tracked the changes of inside air temperatures of a dark blue, midsize sedan with a medium gray interior.
Temperatures on 16 random summer days ranged between 72 and 96 degrees. Inside the test vehicle, the temperature rose an average of 19 degrees in 10 minutes, 29 degrees in 20 minutes, 34 degrees in 30 minutes and 43 degrees in an hour. Leaving the window down slightly produced little relief. Vehicle interior colors appear to be a major factor in how rapidly automobile temperatures rise.
In a 90-degree environment, it takes less than 20 minutes for the inside of a car to reach 125 degrees. In less than 40 minutes, the inside temperature can soar to 140 degrees.
“Young children and infants are much more susceptible to heat illnesses than adults,” according to authors of the study. “…Toddlers’ body temperatures rise faster and they lose proportionally more water than adults in hot weather.”
Temperatures do not need to reach triple digits to pose life-threatening conditions for children. Symptoms include lethargy, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea and a body temperature of up to 104 degrees, according to the Texas Children’s Hospital. Children lose their ability to sweat, resulting in seizures, stroke and ultimately death.