Hot Car Challenge Brings Awareness to Heat-Related Injuries and Deaths in Cars

By Linda Ong |

Published 07/12 2014 10:26PM

Updated 07/12 2014 10:30PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A hot car challenge on social media-- sitting in a hot car and explaining how it feels-- is heating up across the country. There have been multiple recent cases across the nation of children who died after being left in a hot car. A man in Georgia faces murder charges for the death of his toddler son who was left in his SUV for many hours.

"There are too many kids that are forgotten in the car all the time," said Tiffany Runyan, a mother of two young children.

Runyan said the thought of accidentally leaving her two kids in the car is always in the back of her mind.

"I always try to make a habit to just look in the back seat, even if they're not with me just so I know I'm not forgetting anything, especially them," said Runyan.

A viral challenge from a North Carolina man is helping to raise awareness of just how hot sitting inside a car can be. Williams posted a video of himself sitting in a hot car and the experiment has gone viral.

"I would never leave my kids in a car like this man, ever. I don't even care if the car was running with the A.C. was on," said Williams in the video.

Runyan said watching the viral video strikes a cord.

"Him sweating so much, and he hasn't been in there long," she said. "It's just, that's a lot for a little kid to deal with."

Trauma Team Nurse Practioner at Cox Hospital Jan Wells said toddlers' bodies react to heat differently from adults.

"Children have a tendency to heat up a little bit quicker," said Wells. "For their body surface area, they just heat up much faster."

Wells said the health affects of leaving anyone in a hot car can quickly set in.

"We get into heat stroke, when we've hit usually when we hit 104," Wells said. "We can replace with fluids and cool them down and that's our goal, that's what we have to do. There comes a point though that sometimes we can't reverse it."

An self-experiment revealed just how hot it can get sitting inside a car under the sweltering sun. When the outside temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit, inside temperatures in the backseat of a car swelled to more than 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

As the summer months steam on, many are asking regulators to step in to create a mandatory car safety feature to ensure drivers will check the back seat.

"I would definitely support something like that because I have two little ones myself, because I know when you're in a rush, it is easy to uh forget sometimes," said Runyan.

Wells said the common symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, hallucination, sleepiness, and seizures. She said if your child or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms to cool them off, and to go to the emergency if the conditions become more severe.

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