SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – In the first week of August, eight children died from heatstroke in hot vehicles in the United States, believed to be the highest one-week total ever.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so far this year, 23 children have died in 13 states. There were 33 such deaths in all of 2011 and 49 in 2010. Golden Gate Weather Services private meteorologist Jan Null, who also serves as a lecturer in meteorology at San Francisco State University, found that from 1998, 550 children in the U.S. died when left unattended in hot vehicles.

KCBS Interviews Meteorologist Jan Null:

According to the NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle-related deaths for children under the age of 14.

Null said that the research shows that these deaths occurred in a wide range of temperatures, from around 70 degrees F to over 115 degrees F. Even at the more mild temperatures, vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures very rapidly.

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A number of reasons were given for the 494 child vehicular hypothermia deaths from 1998 through 2011. 52 percent of cases involved a child “forgotten” by a caregiver.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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