Despite the recent break in oppressive temperatures, today is still National Heatstroke Prevention Day is today

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger, with an average of 37 fatalities per year since 1998. Those strokes are the result of children being left in hot cars. 

“Drivers may think it’s okay to leave children and pets unattended in a vehicle while they run a quick errand,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman. “The decision to choose perceived convenience over safety can have tragic consequences. Even on a relatively mild 75-degree day, the temperature inside a closed vehicle can rise to 109 degrees in a matter of only 30 minutes.” 

To date, 26 children have died from vehicular heatstroke in 2017, 18 since Memorial Day weekend. Vehicle heatstroke claimed the lives of 39 children in 2016.

“In the summer heat, a vehicle’s interior can reach lethal temperatures very quickly, essentially creating an oven, causing a child’s internal organs to shut down if left unattended inside,”  Steward said. “Young children should never be left alone in a vehicle under any circumstances. Even if you have to put a reminder post-it note on your dashboard, an alarm on your phone or a stuffed animal in the front seat to remember to take a child out of the car, do it.”

According to AAA, a child can die of heat stroke on a 72-degree day.  On a 95-degree day a car can heat up to more than 180 degrees and the steering wheel can reach 159 degrees — the temperature for cooking medium rare meat. The dash can dash can reach 181 degrees, the temperature for cooking poultry.


According to AAA, of the 636 heatstroke deaths in children between 1998-2014:

53 percent were “forgotten” by caregiver (336 children).

29 percent were playing in unattended vehicle (186 children).

17 percent were  intentionally left in vehicle by adult (110 children).



AAA Kansas Urges Motorists To ACT:


A—Avoid heatstroke by never leaving a child in the car alone, not even for a minute.

C—Create reminders by putting something in the backseat you need when exiting the car - for example, a cell phone, purse, wallet, briefcase or shoes. Never leave car keys or car remote where children can get to them.

T—Take action and immediately call 9-1-1- if you notice a child unattended in a car.


When it comes to heatstroke, your animals are also at risk. Leaving them in a vehicle while you run into a store, take a break at a rest stop during a family road trip or for any other reason, can have deadly consequences. Make no mistake – just because your pet can’t tell you they are in distress, doesn’t mean they aren’t. Animals left in hot cars can face irreversible organ damage, heat stroke, brain damage and, in extreme cases, death.


Signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats can include:



Excessive drooling


Reddened gums and tongue

Rapid heart rate

Wobbly, uncoordinated movement


Animals are also at a more severe rate of risk when they have factors like age (very young, very old), obesity, poor heart/lung conditioning, are a short-nosed, flat-faced breed, or have a thick hair coat.