Weather, geography, and vehicle-related hyperthermia in children

Geogr Rev. 2011;101(4):353-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2011.00101.x.


Vehicle-related hyperthermia is an unfortunate tragedy that leads to the accidental deaths of children each year. This research utilizes the most extensive dataset of child vehicle-related hyperthermia deaths in the United States, including 414 deaths between 1998 and 2008. Deaths follow a seasonal pattern, with a peak in July and no deaths in December or January. Also, deaths occurred over a wide range of temperature and radiation levels and across virtually all regions, although most of them took place across the southern United States. In particular, the Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and Las Vegas metropolitan areas had the greatest number of deaths. We utilize our vehicle hyperthermia index (vhi) to compare expected deaths versus actual deaths in a metropolitan area, based on the number of children in the area who are under the age of five and on the frequency of hot days in the area. The vhi indicates that the Memphis, West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, and Las Vegas metropolitan areas are the most dangerous places for vehicle-related hyperthermia. We conclude by discussing several recommendations with public health policy implications.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Mortality* / ethnology
  • Child Mortality* / history
  • Child Welfare / ethnology
  • Child Welfare / history
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cities* / economics
  • Cities* / ethnology
  • Cities* / history
  • Cities* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Fever* / ethnology
  • Fever* / history
  • Geography / economics
  • Geography / education
  • Geography / history
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / history
  • Motor Vehicles* / history
  • Public Health / economics
  • Public Health / education
  • Public Health / history
  • United States / ethnology
  • Weather*