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New UGA temperature table may help reduce heat-related deaths of children in closed cars
Date:6/29/2010

Athens, Ga. The heat of summer brings trips to the lake, afternoons at the beach and vacations in the mountains. It also arrives with the threat of dangerous conditions in closed cars, where children left alone for even a few minutes can lead to tragedy.

Now, a team of researchers at the University of Georgia has developed an easy-to-use table of vehicle temperature changes that may help public officials and media remind the public about the deadly consequences of vehicle-related hyperthermia in children.

While government agencies routinely give warnings about leaving children alone in cars in hot weather, vehicle temperature data from many early studies were "often obtained with small datasets and questionable methodologies such as placing a temperature sensor directly on a car seat," according to Andrew Grundstein of UGA's department of geography in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and leader of the research.

"The danger of leaving young children unattended in vehicles has been well documented," said Grundstein, "But it still happens, and it's always the worst kind of tragedy. Most of the time, caregivers simply forget their children, but more than a quarter of deaths in this situation involve children intentionally left in cars. In some cases, parents just don't want to disturb a sleeping child. Such behavior shows a clear lack of understanding about the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles."

The research was just published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Other authors, also from UGA, are John Dowd and Vernon Meentemeyer.

Each year around 40 children die in the U.S. alone from being left in closed cars during hot weather. Many studies have shown how such things as shading, ventilation and different meteorological conditions can affect temperatures inside cars. But until now, there has been no reliable table of vehicle temperature changes.

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Contact: Andrew Grundstein
andrewg@uga.edu
706-583-0430
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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