Children’s bodies don’t deal well with heat, which is why the hot air in a locked car can prove fatal very quickly. With the help of our pediatrician Dr Kinga Jókay, we explain why it’s dangerous to leave your child alone in a locked car, even for a short time, and what you should look out for to avoid any problems.
Heat in the car
The temperature inside a car can increase by as much as 20°C in less than ten minutes. If it’s 26-38°C outside, the inside temperature can rise to as much as 55-78°C, and not just in the sun. Even in cooler, shady spots, your car can easily get too hot.
Why is this dangerous?
Small children’s bodies overheat three to five times faster than those of grown-ups. If the body is unable to cool down in time, this can result in heat stroke. Symptoms can include dizziness, loss of orientation, confusion, heat, dryness, flushed skin, fainting, a fast heartbeat and hallucinations. When the child’s body temperature reaches 40°C, the main organs begin to shut down, while anything above 42°C can be fatal. There doesn’t have to be a heatwave for your child to suffer from heat stroke: it can happen even if the outside temperature is only 14°C.
How can you keep your child out of danger?
- Never leave your child alone in the car, not even for a few minutes! If someone else is looking after them, make sure they are aware of the dangers
- Always check the back seat before getting out of the car
- If someone else is taking your child somewhere, call them at the time they are expected to arrive to make sure they got there okay
- Always lock the car door to stop your child from opening it and falling out, and put the key somewhere where your child won’t find it
- If you see a child in a locked car, call for help immediately – every second counts
- As well as your child, you should also be careful with your pets, never leave them in a locked car either