Taking you inside a hot car to show you the dangers

KTVO’s Ela Soroka sits inside a hot car to show you how quickly it warms up, and the dangers associated with it.

A hot car can be a death trap for anyone, especially kids. According to, an average of 37 kids die each year in hot cars.

In 2016, the total number of US heatstroke deaths of children left in cars was 36. This year, that number is already at 23.

So how quickly does it take to be inside a hot car before heat exhaustion kicks in? KTVO’s Ela Soroka takes you inside a hot car to show you exactly how dangerous a few minutes can be.

We want to remind you not to try this at home.

Here at the Adair County Ambulance District, surrounded by trained experts, paramedics checked my vitals, and by the looks of it, everything seems to be normal.

After getting the okay, I get situated as I prepare to sit inside a KTVO car for 20-minutes with no air conditioning or open windows.

While we urge you not to try this at home, this team of experts is keeping me safe so you can see just how fast this situation can become dangerous.

“It can happen very rapidly, very quickly! Especially with the temperatures we are going to be having for the next several days,” said Adair County Ambulance District Paramedic Blake Roberts. “Cardiac effects, respiratory problems, electrolyte imbalance, many other issues that can be very serious to your health.”

With temperatures reaching mid-90’s outside, the temperature inside the vehicle is even hotter.

Within a few minutes and I’m already starting to sweat which is the first sign of heat exhaustion.

“Sweating profusely is the main thing,” Robert said. “Light headiness, nausea, and vomiting are early signs, and early warning symptoms of heat related illnesses. As it progresses, it turns into heatstroke where you actually stop sweating.”

Five minutes in the thermometer reads above 100 degrees inside the vehicle and that’s when paramedics check my vitals once again.

My temperature went up two degrees, and my heart rate is also up.

More sweat is pouring from my forehead, and I start to feel like I can’t complete a sentence, all while trying to catch my breath.

But it doesn’t stop there, I wanted to see how long I could stay in there before things got really dangerous.

Now remember, kids aren’t built for the heat.

Health experts say a child’s body temperatures rises three to five times faster than adults.

“Kids, you know, their body’s haven’t fully developed, yet,” Roberts said. “They can’t thermo-regulate themselves like adults can.”

And that’s were seconds count. The temperature inside a vehicle can climb 20 digress in just 10 minutes, but it doesn’t have to be scorching hot outside for it to be dangerous.

“Even in temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s with the windows rolled up, and direct sun on the vehicle can be very deadly to any individual, especially to kids and the elderly,” Roberts said.

And within ten minutes, the temp inside the car checked in at 106 degrees, it was so hot that the Go-Pro stopped working.

Once again, KTVO advises you not to try this at home.

It’s at the 15-minute mark where heat exhaustion starts taking over.

“It turns into a heat stroke when you eventually stop sweating, and that’s where all your organs start to shut down, and with the electrolyte imbalances, and everything else with it, it can be really negative, and result in death, potentially,” Roberts said.

20 minutes later, it’s time to call it quits. My body temperature topped out at 103 degrees and inside the vehicle a whopping 130 degrees.

“They say at about 105 degrees to 107 degrees on a human for death to occur,” Roberts said.

While forgetting a child in a car might sound silly to some, the numbers tell a different story.

According to no heat stroke, 54 percent of all hot car deaths are the result of a caregiver doing just that. 28 percent of deaths are due to a child playing unattended in a car. 17 percent because a child is left intentionally in a vehicle by an adult, and 1 percent the circumstances aren’t known.

Last year, former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, signed a bill into law protecting people who rescue children from hot cars, it’s known as the Good Samaritan Law.

“Now there are some specifications for that,” said Sgt. Matt Kellison with the Kirksville Police Department. “You have to make sure and check there is no other avenue to get the child out before you break a window. You also have to make sure the child is in distress, the air is not on, and you must call emergency personnel prior to breaking it, but basically it keeps you from civil liability. But you have to follow the steps.”

Laws governing the circumstances vary. While leaving a child in a hot car can certainly bring about serious legal charges, only 19 states have concrete laws on the books that make it illegal to leave a child alone in a car in the first place. Most of these laws refer to either "leaving a child unattended" or, more broadly, "endangering a child."

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