June 29, 2009

A hot car can ‘bake’ a child

Leaving a child in a hot car is like leaving a child in a lit oven, a U.S. emergency physician warns.

Dr. Nick Jouriles, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, says children throughout the country die each year as a direct result of being left alone in a hot vehicle.

The most important thing to know is that it does not have to be brutally hot outside for it to be brutally hot inside the car, Jouriles said in a statement.

A vehicle's window will act like a greenhouse, trapping sunlight and heat inside with no ventilation and the inside of a vehicle parked in direct sunlight can reach up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit despite an outside temperature of 80 degrees, Jouriles says.

In warm weather, a vehicle can reach life-threatening conditions in only about 10 minutes, Jouriles warns.

A child's body temperature can go as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit in that time and it often is fatal, Jouriles said.

These extreme conditions can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, as well as heat stroke, dehydration and seizures among other things.