Survey Turns Up Heat on Leaving Kids in the Car

Along with the lazy, hazy days of summer lurks a potential killer. Temperatures inside a vehicle – even with the window cracked – can reach lethal levels in a matter of minutes.

A new survey released by Kids in Cars ( ) shows that many parents and caregivers have left a child under the age of 12 unattended in a vehicle, suggesting that these adults are not aware of the potential deadly consequences that can occur in a matter of mere minutes.

Results from the survey showed that 24 percent of American adults with children under 18 living at home have left a child under age 12 alone in a vehicle. This issue is more alarming when there are younger children living at home: 28 percent of American adults with children under six living at home and 33 percent of American adults with children aged 6-12 living at home have left them alone in a vehicle. (Source: Harris Interactive Poll, April 2005)

The study also shows that the “kids in cars” issue spans all socio-
economic levels including age, gender, education, income level and employment status.

“A car can quickly become an oven, even with mild outdoor temperatures,” said Kids in Cars Executive Director Terrill Struttmann. “Cars are not meant to be childproof, and children should never be left alone in a vehicle – not even for a minute.”

According to a study done by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, when it is 93 degree Fahrenheit, a car parked in direct sunlight can reach 131-172 degrees Fahrenheit in only 15 minutes. At that temperature it only takes a matter of minutes for children to die or suffer permanent disability.

“It’s amazing that parents won’t leave ice cream in a car for fear of it
melting, yet they’ll leave children alone in the same conditions,” noted

In addition to heat stroke and hypothermia, other risks from leaving children unattended in vehicles include abduction, setting a vehicle in motion, trunk entrapment and even fatal car crashes.

Struttmann and his wife, Michele, founded Kids in Cars in 1999 after their two-year-old son, Harrison, died from being struck by a van set into motion by two toddlers left unattended in the running vehicle.

“We are on a mission to save lives,” Struttmann stated. “Planning ahead and taking responsibility can help eliminate the injuries and deaths caused by leaving children unattended in or around cars.”