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How Hot Is Too Hot for a Parked Vehicle?

By Kelly Balamuth on June 29, 2018

In Northern California, we’re accustomed to mild temperatures for most of the year. But it doesn’t take much direct sunlight to heat up the inside of a parked car to dangerous levels. Leaving someone in your vehicle with the windows rolled up could lead to disastrous results, especially for pets, babies, or the elderly.

Unfortunately, mistakes do happen.

One such accident happened to Jennifer Hilton. As she explains, one day she forgot to drop her toddler off at daycare, and ended up leaving him unattended in her car when she arrived at work. Luckily, he was found alive before suffering extreme heatstroke, but the near-tragedy changed Hilton’s life forever.

She became a volunteer for Kids and Cars, an organization dedicated to protecting children from the hazards associated with being left in cars. She and the organization are advocating for new technology that would warn drivers if they leave someone in the back seat. According to Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who is co-sponsoring the legislation in Congress, “My car reminds me when I get out of the car and the keys are in there—how can we not remind the driver to check the backseat?”

The statistics support these advocates’ concern. Kids and Cars claims that over 800 children have died due to vehicular heatstroke since 1990. More than 50% of these fatalities were the result of the child being unknowingly left in the car, while 28% of the children climbed into the vehicle on their own, and 13% were knowingly left. Most frightening of all, 87% of the fatalities involved children aged 3 or younger.

The threat of vehicular heatstroke is due to a scientific phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. This is when an enclosed space with large windows is quickly heated by the sun. Most people are shocked to learn how fast a parked vehicle will heat up in direct sunlight. Even when the windows are cracked open, the interior temperature can surpass 125 degrees in a matter of minutes! This is because 80% of the increase in temperature occurs in the first 10 minutes. However, young children have died from heatstroke in cars when the exterior temperature was as low as 60 degrees.

If your child was left inside a vehicle and suffered heat-related injuries, you may have a case of negligence on your hands. To discuss your case with a passionate and caring Walnut Creek child injury attorney, contact Balamuth Law today at (925) 254-1234. Your consultation is free.


Posted in: Child Injury

Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
September 2013 Issue of Plaintiff Magazine.

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