UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Pediatric heat related car deaths

Keywords: hyperthermia, pediatrics, car (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/20/2021 by Jenny Guyther, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
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- A higher metabolic rate, reduced capacity for sweating, greater thermolability, and a larger body surface-to-volume ratio make infants and young children more susceptible to hyperthermia.

- Temperatures can rise rapidly within enclosed vehicles, reaching maximum temperatures within 5 minutes. In an open area with an ambient temp of 98 F (36.8 C), interior temperatures reach 124-152 F (51 to 67 C) within 15 minutes of closing the car doors.

- Texas leads the country in the numbers of pediatric heatstroke fatalities due to unattended children left in cars, followed by Florida and California.

- Most heatstroke victims (78.2%) were unknowingly left in vehicles by their caregivers.

- Most organizations interested in child safety issues recommend placing a phone, briefcase, or handbag in the back seat when traveling with a child as one way to prevent heatstroke fatalities.

References

Hammett DL, Kennedy TM, Selbst SM, et al. Pediatric Heatstroke Fatalities Caused by Being Left in Motor Vehicles. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2020 May 28. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002115. Online ahead of print.
AAP question of the week.  June 16, 2021.