07-05-2014, 12:24 PM #1Former Member
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- Feb 2007
The Science & Statistics Behind Hot Car Deaths
A lot of research was done on children left in hot cars, statistics and other information. I'll try to find some of those older posts and move them here.
Please add new discussion/resources here.
07-05-2014, 01:36 PM #2Registered User
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- Jan 2013
- South Florida
This is a horrible case but, if there's one good thing it has brought about, it's more awareness about hot car deaths.
Anyways, first off, you should understand how and why cars get so hot.
There's something called the greenhouse effect that you usually hear about in relation to global warming, but it applies to this too. The greenhouse effect is when natural heat-trapping gases hold on to the infrared radiation given off by the sun.
Ever wondered why greenhouses are made out of glass? Well, that's because it keeps the light in but reflects the infrared radiation, and that radiation can't escape. That allows the greenhouse retain all that heat, which, in turn, allows the plants within the greenhouse to thrive.
Obviously, IR doesn't differentiate between a greenhouse and the glass windows on your car. So, when your car is parked and the light comes in, the whole interior of the car reflects infrared radiation. Problem is, the radiation cannot escape, and that causes the car to heat up significantly. It can also happen very quickly, and that's what makes it so deadly.
USA Today's 10 facts
The main takeaways are:
- On average, 38 American children die each year since 1998. Since 1998, 619 children have died from heatstroke in a vehicle.
- Over 70% of cases involve a child younger than 2 years old.
- Over 50% occur because the parent forgot the child in the car. 30% occur because the child getting in the car without the parents' knowledge. The remaining 20% are due to parents leaving the kid in the car intentionally (which DOES NOT mean murder, it just means they probably went to run errands and underestimated the heat).
- A car can heat up 20ºF in 10 minutes, and can even reach a total temperature of 110ºF when it's only 60ºF outside!
- Cracking open the windows or parking in the shade DOES NOT cool down the car enough to not pose a danger.
- Children's body temperature increase much faster than adults - even 3 to 5 times faster. That, along with the fact that most of these kids are too young to open the door by themselves to get out, is why hot cars can be so deadly.
- Heatstroke can occur when the body's internal temperature goes over 104ºF. Getting to 107º or higher is deadly.
GGWeather fact sheet
The age range for all the kids who've died since 1998 is 5 days old to 14 years old.
2011 - 2013 shows a 10-fold increase in car-related heat deaths in children since the early 1990s. This is because airbags are so common now and it's no longer customary to keep your baby in the front seat like it was before. Now, since the kids are in the back, it's easy to forget them.
- Only 20 states have laws dealing with leaving a kid in a car alone.
- Charges were filed in about half of all cases, with 81% ending in a conviction. When it came to babysitters and other paid caregivers, the conviction rate was 96%.
- Only 7% of these cases involved a parent who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Signs and symptoms of heatstroke include dizziness, irritability, confusion, seizures, lethargy, hot and red skin that is not sweaty, unconsciousness, rapid heartbeat, disorientation, seizures and hallucinations.
- At an internal temperature of 107ºF, cells begin to be damaged and internal organs start shutting down.
2012 CNN article
A baby can die of heatstroke within 15 MINUTES of being in a hot car on a 75ºF day.
Some more sources:
Washington Post article
States w/ ''Unattended Child in Vehicle'' laws
Map of heat deaths since 1998
Car heatstroke deaths per year
07-05-2014, 02:41 PM #3
Incredible reenactment of a scenario and the consequences of forgetting your baby in a car.
07-05-2014, 03:41 PM #4
Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it's not ... The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone." - Robin Williams
07-05-2014, 05:52 PM #5
ETA: this article was JUST published on June 3rd of this year. I had read it when a friend posted it on Facebook, and thought of it immediately when the Cooper Harris story hit the news.
This is not "science" but it's a blog post written for Salon by a mom who left her 4 year old in the car while she ran in a store for a moment, and was prosecuted:
He was not injured or harmed in any way, but the trial and her side of the case are interesting.
I was sympathetic to her. I saw her side of the story. I understand why she did what she did that day.skibaboo's map of Alanna's neighborhood with triangles marking key locations
Here is a link to Bessie's Map of the Alanna Gallagher case and other abducted girls in the vicinity.
And here's Otto's map of that too
And here is a link to our working timeline in the media thread for Alanna's case.
Alanna Gallagher "Who's Who?"
It's all opinion, all day, all night, and it's all good.
07-05-2014, 06:39 PM #6
•In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
•Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
•With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
•A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
•Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside!
•A child dies when his/her temperature reaches 107.
•The heat-related death of a child
•Misdemeanor with fines as high as $500 — and even imprisonment — in some states
•Felony, depending on the state, if bodily harm results from leaving kids alone in a hot car
•Note: The age of children who can be left unattended in a vehicle varies from state to state, as does the duration of time a child can be left alone in a car.
Prevention Tips to Avoid a Tragic Heatstroke
•Never leave a child alone in a car.
•Don’t let your kids play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
•Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
•Keep a large teddy bear or other stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s empty. Move the teddy bear to the front seat when you place the child in the seat as a visual reminder.
•If you are dropping your children off at childcare, but normally your spouse or partner drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure they were not left in the car.
•Become vigilant about looking in the vehicle before locking the door. Always look front and back before walking away — always!
07-05-2014, 06:43 PM #7
The recent death of Cooper Harris, a 22-month-old child left in a hot car in Georgia, has drawn attention to the risks of leaving children unattended in vehicles. USA TODAY Network compiled 10 facts about child deaths in cars caused by heat stroke.
1. An average of 38 children have died in hot cars each year in the USA since 1998.
2. Since 1998, 619 children have died in vehicles from heat stroke in the USA.
3. More than 70% of heat stroke deaths occur in children younger than age 2.
4. More than half of heat stroke deaths occur because a caregiver forgot the child in the car.
5. Roughly 30% of heat stroke deaths occur because the child got in the car without a caregiver knowing and couldn't get out.
6. Nearly 20% of deaths occur because a caregiver intentionally left the child in the car.
7. Cars heat up quickly. A vehicle can heat up 20 degrees in 10 minutes.
8. Cracking the windows or not parking in direct sunlight does not make a car significantly cooler. Heat stroke deaths have occurred even when the vehicle was parked in shade.
9. A car can reach 110 degrees when temperatures are only in the 60s. Heat stroke can take place when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.
10. The body temperatures of children can increase three to five times faster than adults. Heat stroke begins when the body passes 104 degrees. Reaching an internal temperature of 107 degrees can be deadly.
07-06-2014, 10:35 PM #8
What happens when a child is dying in a hot car?
What exactly happens to a child trapped in a hot car? The child experiences acute vehicular hyperthermia. This is a particularly painful and gruesome way to die, IMO. I will put layperson definitions into this quote.
Pathophysiology of Hyperthermia
Although vehicular entrapment quickly results in hyperthermia in victims of all ages, children are especially vulnerable to the effects of heat stroke. Compared to adults, they have a more susceptible surface area that can absorb heat and immature thermoregulation. Additionally, young children strapped into a car seat are both developmentally and physically unable to extricate themselves from a vehicle, remove clothing to help manage heat or drink fluids to manage dehydration.
Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness. It usually consists of a core body temperature greater than or equal to 104˚ F and neurologic dysfunction, such as disorientation, delirium, seizures, or coma. The pathophysiology of heat stroke in children relates to the duration of exposure to heat. At the onset of heat stress, cardiac output increases and circulation is shunted peripherally to vasodilate skin and muscle to facilitate heat loss. Hyperthermia develops as the child is unable to dissipate heat with prolonged exposure and can no longer maintain a normal core body temperature. As it progresses, dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities develop, particularly hypernatremia (KZ note: dangerously high sodium levels) due to water loss and hypocalcemia (KZ note: dangerously low calcium levels) due to skeletal muscle degradation. These electrolyte abnormalities affect cardiac contractility and conduction (KZ note: this means the ability of the heart to beat properly), and impede the child’s ability to maintain an elevated cardiac output (KZ note: children are dependent on heart rate to keep their blood pressure in the proper range, unlike adults who have a more complicated mechanism to regulate blood pressure.) In the presence of dehydration and vasodilation, this drop in cardiac output leads to hypotension (KZ note: this means dangerous collapse of the blood pressure regulatory and compensatory mechanisms).
As the duration of exposure increases, endothelial damage (KZ note: damage inside the blood vessels) occurs to the microvasculature and children may develop cutaneous signs of coagulopathy (KZ note: dangerous disorder of proper blood clotting), including petechiae and purpura. Terminal hyperthermia results in cardiac arrhythmias and deep gasping.6-8 In a series of autopsies of children who died from vehicular hyperthermia, the most consistent finding was intrathoracic petechiae (KZ: small pinpoint hemorrhages inside the lungs), presumed to be due to deep gasping. Although victims of heat stroke may progress to cerebral edema (KZ note: serious swelling of the brain), multiorgan hemorrhage, and necrosis or rhabdomyolysis (KZ note: sudden onset breakdown of muscle tissue producing by products that can clog the kidneys), these injuries are not believed to be present during acute heat stroke.
07-06-2014, 11:05 PM #9
Discussion of the death of a 17 month old from vehicular hyperthermia in the Carribean.
"They lose water and losing water, dehydration, actually brings about the imbalance of what metabolises and minerals in the body."
He added that once the sodium and potassium levels in the body increase, it is considered fatal.
"Another problem with hyperthermia is that in our muscles we have a special protein responsible for the muscle contraction. It's called myosin but in very high temperature it comes down to another protein called globine, forming the substance myoglobine which paralyses the muscles. So eventually it's muscle paralysis involving the entire body."
So before being dehydrated, baby Jaedon's muscles would have been paralysed throughout his entire body and according Dr. Alexandrov, his diaphragm would have become paralysed and it would have then blocked respiration. The same would have occurred for his heart muscles.
"So eventually the clinical picture of people dying of this condition is they become kind of dormant, then semi-conscious, unconscious, then comatosed and during this period, because of the muscular problems, they develop seizures which basically aggravate the whole situation and the final stage is death."
From Dr. Alexandrov's past experiences, the length of time for someone to die from hyperthermia would be approximately one hour.
07-07-2014, 04:13 PM #10Registered User
- Join Date
- Oct 2009
- Sacramento, CA
Op-ed: Can parents really forget kids in cars?
"FBS (Forgotten Baby Syndrome) appears to involve a clash between prospective memory and another form of memory, referred to as habit memory."
07-08-2014, 11:37 AM #11
When may paramedics "declare" death at the scene?
On another thread, someone asked if paramedics can pronounce death. This is kind of a science-y, medical-y topic, so I thought I'd post here.
Most paramedics without a ride-along doc can "declare" death at the scene under limited circumstances. This is not the LEGAL pronouncement of death, but rather the judgement that a person is beyond all hope of resuscitation. This allows paramedics to have the purpose of declaring death so that they may withhold the initiation of resuscitation for people who are quite obviously dead, and also turn their efforts and resources toward those victims who can be resuscitated.
The allowances for paramedics to "declare" death varies state to state, and also are written into policies and standing orders from the physician medical directors for each paramedic unit.
Most paramedics can declare death (without taking time to verify with the base hospital doc), for the purpose of withholding life saving resuscitation procedures, or terminating efforts of bystanders for limited situations such as these:
- Complete asystole, with visible brain matter from a severe head injury
- Severe trauma with asystole at the scene (*see comments below)
- Abdominal transection, complete (a person is cut in half)
- Rigor mortis
- Livor mortis
- Advanced decomposition, such as skin slippage, bloat, etc.
(There is still documentation by the paramedics of the condition of the victim, and whatever reasonably appropriate measures they took to verify death, such as the absence of a pulse, or asystole via ECG. Decapitation would not require a pulse check or ECG verification, for example.)
Instances at the scene where there is asystole (documented by ECG in several leads) after a robust and prolonged resuscitation attempt at the scene, and evidence of severe trauma (such as a GSW to the chest or head) will also usually allow paramedics to abandon resuscitation efforts. (The statistical survivability of severe trauma with asystole at the scene, is near zero. About the only exceptions are GSW or severe trauma right outside the door of a level one trauma center, with a prepped and ready heart lung machine and crew standing by. And even then it's almost zero.)
For things like children with hypothermia from drowning or falls thru ice, paramedics will typically NOT declare death at the scene if the accident has been very recent. There is an adage in pediatrics that a child of drowning or hypothermia is not dead until they are "warmed and dead". They will transport with CPR and resuscitation in progress.
For situations of witnessed collapse (heart attacks, etc), those are more "gray" areas that require continuous communication with the base hospital to determine if life saving efforts will be continued, once asystole is reached.
If a patient is dead at the scene, they are not always transported to a hospital. That depends on circumstances (accident, possible crime, expected hospice death, etc), capabilities of the region, and the directions of the ME/ coroner's office. (Joypath can elaborate more on this.)
Being "declared" dead at the scene by a paramedic is for purposes of initiating, withholding, or terminating resuscitation measures AT THE SCENE, ONLY. It is not the same as a "LEGAL" determination of death. Paramedics do not sign death certificates, or "pronounce" death.
Hope this helps!
A few links to power points and state statutes:
*Warning- graphic photos in next ppt link.
Last edited by K_Z; 07-08-2014 at 12:21 PM. Reason: Add links
07-08-2014, 11:50 AM #12
Really good article from 2001 about the autopsy findings of children who die from heatstroke. From the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. 7 pages.
07-09-2014, 06:42 AM #13
This is a post I posted on June 26 2103 about another case of hot car death
That's what I don't understand. I think the point I was making in this thread (which I've made elsewhere before) is related to this concept that it is "understandable' and "conceivable" that a parent would do this.
It makes me curious about how we can set up situations in society that can be abused by men and women who don't want to be in a relationship or tied to a person with whom they had a child. (Not necessarily this case)
Ex. A man marries a woman and she has a baby and after a while he wants out. But he realizes that he's going to be chained to this woman for the next 18 years because of the baby and perhaps even longer.
So he babysits the baby and "forgets" to take the baby in from the car. OMG dead baby. He's traumatized and the devastation breaks them up.
Perhaps it's just the fact that we're hearing about the issues more and more in the news. But here's an example of the penalty for this crime
Would 1-3 years be dropped into parole?
There's an old Quincy episode where my hero busted a lawyer trying to do exactly this same thing. (I know I know television SPOILER) Basically the lawyer waited for someone to cross a crosswalk. Prior to this he pulled up next to a bus stop and made sure everyone was seeing him sloppy drunk. Then he ran the guy over and killed him and kept drinking so that his BAC was super high. This was back in the 80s when the penalties were not as stiff for drinking and driving and he knew he'd get parole.
So he used the system to get away with murder. If penalties in these cases are not harsh, aren't we setting up a system that makes it easy to murder little kids and get away with it?
(And no I'm not saying that's all that's happening)
I still can't grasp how a grown adult watching a baby could leave a child inside a car on a hot day. It's all over the news everywhere.
In my opinion, had Detective Stoddard not had a background in child abuse, Harris may very welll have gotten away with this crime. Even if he had been prosecuted for negligence he would have gotten off with a slap on the wrist.
IMO we need to reexamine the way we look at these cases as potential murders. I do not believe that all of these cases are accidents or bad parenting. I think there are many more cases of people who have murdered their children this way and gotten away with it.
For example, I always suspected that Casey Anthony did this to her daughter. I think she hid her body in the trunk of her car and left her there in the hot sun to kill her after sedating her and placing duct tape across her mouth. But something went wrong in her plan and she realized that they'd be able to tell she had deliberately done it, so she got rid of the body. JMO“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
07-09-2014, 07:28 AM #14Registered User
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07-09-2014, 10:41 AM #15Registered User
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- May 2010
Greenpalm, I often feel the way you expressed yourself in this post -- I try to understand the perspective of all involved parties and I can get easily (emotionally) involved.
Here is my concern -- when we let our feelings prevent us from holding people accountable, it opens up a huge can of worms; it's a slippery slope. I agree with Nancy above -- ultimately it's Mom's responsibility to make sure the law is followed and that there is NO room for error/accidents, etc, involving your children. Her child was safe BUT many things COULD have still happened. The car could have been stolen with him in it; he could have been kidnapped; he could have decided to get out and wander in to the store & been hit by a car -- any number of things COULD have happened; thankfully it didn't; but she still left her child alone in the car.
We need to charge parents when they break the law and let the investigative chips fall where they may -- our emotions in cases like these are better suited for education/prevention -- and in the case of an arrested parent, it can be helpful for LE & courts to perhaps be sympathetic to a mother like this during bond hearings and sentencing phase. We can't let our understanding get in the way of our judgment, and we can't give a "pass" to those who plan to use past cases and our emotions against us when they want to hurt their children.HOPING I CAN HELP
but, what if .... ?
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