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Hyperthermia: Hot Cars & Heatstroke Are Back

By Evan L. Kaine

Warmer temperatures have infiltrated their way into the Peach State and the summer will be here in no time. Before the sweltering heat and humidity completely take over, a reminder should be given to drivers regarding hyperthermia. Hyperthermia occurs when a person’s body temperature rises and remains above the normal; 98.6°F Most frequently, this occurs during the heat of summer and among the elderly. This topic has made its way into headlines time and time again as far too many lives have been lost—particularly the lives of children.

The dangers of hyperthermia are real. It takes minutes in a scorching vehicle for an adult, let alone a small child, to start feeling the effects of heatstroke. The awareness of children being left in hot vehicles has increased exponentially in the past fifteen (15) years.  Since 1998, there have been 636 children who have died because they have been left in a car. The Children’s Safety Network has recently released a new study on children who suffered heatstroke and/or were trapped in a vehicle.  The study found that 85% of respondents knew some of the dangers involving children being left in a hot car. This percentage increased from the same survey done the prior year (69% of parents knew the dangers).  Lastly, of the 636 children who died, over half of them were forgotten by an adult and 47% of them died after gaining access to the vehicle.

According to another study done by kidsandcars.org, there is an average of 38 children who die each year because they were left in a sweltering vehicle. For many of us this seems unfathomable. How could you ever “forget” your child was with you?

While many researchers have released their opinions on why this tragedy occurs, many believe that it has something to do with children being moved to the backseat. For example, in 1990 about five (5) children a year died from heatstroke after being left alone. However, by 1995, five (5) years after front seat airbags became “the norm” (sending kids to the backseat), the number of deaths had risen to 25.

While opinions waver, one thing remains clear – a discussion must be had regarding this very important topic. While research continues, these organizations provide helpful tips to parents and caregivers so tragedies like this don’t happen:

  • Place a large stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when not in use. When you put your child into the seat, move the stuffed animal to the front seat as a reminder that your child is in the back.
  • Leave your purse or brief case on the backseat out of reach of your child. This forces you to check the backseat before you leave the car.
  • If your child doesn’t show-up to daycare or school at the expected time, arrange to have an administrator call you to check-in. Make sure that all adults know your child’s routine and any changes that you make to it.

Finally, please always take a second or third look before you ever step away from your vehicle. Too many families have endured pain and suffering by skipping the simple step of checking the backseat one more time. Be safe and stay cool!


For more information about this article, contact Kaine Law.



Posted in Wrongful Death |
Published March 31, 2016


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