Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Heat Danger: Never Leave Kids in Parked Car

Cars Heat Up Quickly, Even With Windows Cracked and Milder Weather, Study Shows
WebMD Health News

July 5, 2005 -- Never leave children in a car, say researchers in California.

Cars get hot very quickly, and babies and young kids are especially vulnerable to the heat, say Catherine McLaren, MD, and colleagues.

Leaving a window slightly open or counting on milder temperatures aren't good ideas, they say.

"Prevention of heat illness in children and potentially other injuries is straightforward: Do not leave them in the car," the researchers write in Pediatrics.

Hot Cars Can Be Fatal for Kids

Last year, 35 children died from heat stroke after being left unattended in a vehicle. In 2003, 42 children lost their lives that way.

Those numbers appear in McLaren's study.

The researchers didn't just cite statistics. They did an experiment to see how fast cars heat up.

They checked temperatures inside an empty, dark blue sedan. The car was parked in full sun on 16 different days.

Outdoor temperatures ranged from 72-96 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature inside the car was checked every five minutes for an hour.

Sky-High Temperatures in a Short Time

The mercury inside the car soared 40 degrees higher than outside temperatures, on average.

Even on a sunny, 72-degree day, temperatures inside the car could reach 117 degrees Fahrenheit in an hour, say the researchers.

Eighty-percent of that rise happened in the first 30 minutes, they say.

"Vehicles heat up rapidly with the majority of temperature rise occurring within the first 15 to 30 minutes," they write."

Open Window Not a Big Help

On two days, the researchers lowered a window 1.5 inches. That didn't make much difference in the car's temperature.

"Cracking open windows is not effective in decreasing either the rate of heat rise or the maximum temperature attained," they say.

The researchers placed the sensor in a shaded part of the car's interior.

"This suggests that if a child were positioned in full sun, then the heat stress would be greater and more rapid," they say.

Other Risks

Leaving children in a car also "puts them at risk for other harm," say the researchers.

They say those hazards include thermal burns from buckles, abduction, and injury from the child's putting the car in motion or operating power control features.

"If more people knew the danger of leaving their children in the car, they probably wouldn't do it," says McLaren, in a news release.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow