How fast can temperatures rise inside a parked car during the summer?

883 children have died in hot cars since 1998
Hot Car
Posted at 12:05 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 15:05:22-04

(KERO) — The warm weather is here and we want you to be safe.

How fast can temperatures inside a parked car rise during the summer?

The National Weather Service says even if it's not excessively hot outside temperatures in a car can still rise dramatically. It did an experiment and found the internal temperatures can go up a few degrees every few minutes even when external temperatures don't change.

The car in the experiment was left parked outside in the sun on a day when it was 93 degrees. By noon the car was 104 degrees inside. Ten minutes later it was 107 degrees. After another 10 minutes, the temperature was 110. An hour and a half later the National Weather Service says the car reached 124 degrees inside.

So why does that happen?

Meteorologists say the car simply absorbs heat from the sunlight. Cars don't cool down because the heat has nowhere to go.

You can see in this graphic from the website LiveScience just how hot the cars can get:

Parking in the shade can help keep cars cooler on hot days but it is still not safe to leave kids and pets in cars for any period of time. Keeping windows cracked can also help some of the hot air get out of the car. And it might be a good idea to invest in a windshield shade for your car to keep the sun out.

Not just a matter of comfort

And this is not just a matter of being uncomfortable, 883 children have died in hot cars since 1998 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA reports a record 53 children died of vehicular heatstroke in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, 24 children died in hot cars and one child has already died this year.


The majority of hot car deaths — 53% — happen because someone forgets a child in a car. You may be asking yourself: How does this happen? Families who lost a loved one thought the same thing at one point, but then the tragedy happened to them. In 2019, we saw the highest number of deaths, 32, because children were forgotten, according to Jan Null, who has been tracking vehicular heatstroke deaths since 1998. Among the trends he discovered over the years:

  • About 46% of the time when a child was forgotten, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at a daycare or preschool.
  • Thursdays and Fridays — the end of the workweek — have had the highest deaths.
  • Nearly 75% of children who are forgotten and die are under 2 years old.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration