Every summer, experienced Kentucky injury attorneys remind parents and caregivers not to leave children inside a vehicle, even for a few minutes – but every year, about 25 percent of parents and caregivers admit to leaving kids inside parked cars.
Many of these caregivers or parents believe that leaving a window down is sufficient to prevent a child injury, such as heatstroke when he or she is left in the car “for just a minute.” According to a 2004 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however, the interior of a vehicle may heat up as much as 19 degrees Fahrenheit in only 10 minutes – and as much as 40 degrees within an hour even when the windows are down, if the car is parked in direct sunlight. This rapid heating occurs because the windows of a car act like a greenhouse’s glass walls, trapping heat inside the enclosed space. Merely lowering a window does not allow the heat to escape as quickly as it builds up.
Children are at higher risk of suffering fatal heatstroke in parked cars than adults because their bodies are less capable of managing their own internal temperature. Once a child’s body temperature rises above 104 degrees, serious brain injury or even death may quickly result. The interior of a parked car can heat to temperatures greater than 110 degrees Fahrenheit even if the outdoor temperature is only 60 degrees, if the car is left closed in direct sunlight. Therefore, it is crucial to never leave children or pets inside a vehicle in the summer.