Hyperthermia Deaths of
Children in Vehicles
by Jan Null, CCM
Department of Geosciences, SFSU
Updated June 27, 2012
This year there have been at least seven deaths of children due to hyperthermia (heat stroke) after being in hot cars, trucks, vans and SUV’s. In 2011 there were at least 33 juvenile vehicular hyperthermia fatalities. Since 1998 there have been at least a total of 534 of these needless tragedies. This study shows that these incidents can occur on days with relatively mild (i.e., ~ 70 degrees F) temperatures and that vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures very rapidly.
- Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 2012: 7
- Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 2011: 33
- Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 1998-present: 534
- Average number of U.S. child hyperthermia fatalities per year since 1998:38
- An examination of media reports about the 494 child vehicular hyperthermia deaths for an thirteen year period (1998 through 2011) shows the following circumstances:
- 52% – child “forgotten” by caregiver (253 Children)
- 30% – child playing in unattended vehicle (150)
- 17% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (86)
- 1% – circumstances unknown (5)
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