Children have died from heat stress because they have been left in closed automobiles. Changes in the internal temperature of various sized automobiles left in the Brisbane summer sun were examined. With all windows and doors closed, this temperature rose from an ambient level of 36 C to a maximum of 67 C within 15 minutes and remained there until the doors were opened. Slightly lower temperatures were found for light colored sedans and station wagons. However, all readings were significantly above ambient and all produced an environment unacceptable for a child. Temperatures approaching ambient were only achieved with ventilation provided by windows at least 200 mm (half) open. A lesser gap (50 mm) resulted in interior temperatures exceeding 50 C, which is still too hot for children. Infants left in such an environment will lose fluid quickly from sweat and could become as much as 8% dehydrated in four hours. Subsequently the cerebral manifestations of heat stroke would ensue. Parents and pediatricians should be warned of the danger of heat stress if children are left in a closed automobile.

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