• Vehicular Heatstroke - Don't Leave Me Behind! - It's too hot in a parked car.

Vehicular Heatstroke

It is never a good idea to leave a child alone in a parked car – especially in Arizona and especially during the summer months. A vehicle’s interior can heat up 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Even when the outside temperature is in the 60s, a parked vehicle can heat up above 110 degrees. Children are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke in hot cars because their body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adults. In fact, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-collision fatalities for children 14 and younger even though most heatstroke deaths that occur in cars are 100% preventable.

This summer the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is partnering with the Arizona Humane Society, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Arizona Gonernor’s Office of Highway Safety to raise awareness in our community and keep the number of children and pets left in hot cars to zero. The Vehicular Heatstroke Campaign will run from May 8th through August 31st. During our 2017 summer campaign we had two tragic deaths of young children in Maricopa County due to being let in a hot vehicle. We are working to ensure this summer no child or pet is left behind in our community.

Safety Tips

County Attorney Bill Montgomery on Vehicular Heatstroke

Heatstroke Signs and Symptoms

Dr. Black Buloch on Vehicular Heatstroke and Kids

For Kids

  • Red, hot, and moist or dry skin
  • No sweating
  • A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Irritable or strange behavior

Dr. Melissa Thompson on Vehicular Heatstroke and Pets

For Pets

  • Loud, rapid panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Body temperature over 103 degrees
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Glazed eyes
  • Weakness or collapse

If You See A Child or Pet In A Hot Vehicle

Arizona law protects a person’s use of reasonable force to remove a child or a household pet from a locked and unattended vehicle if the person does ALL of the following:

  • Call 911 immediately - BEFORE entering the vehicle.
  • Has a good faith belief there is an imminent danger of death or physical injury.
  • Checked the vehicle is locked and found no other reasonable way to get the child or pet out.
  • Uses no more force than necessary.
  • Remains at the scene until authorities arrive.
As per Arizona law (ARS § 12-558.02) a person is not immune from civil liability if the person fails to abide by any of the provisions above and commits any unnecessary or malicious damage to the motor vehicle.


Compiled by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

  • From 1998 to April of 2018, 744 children have died nationwide as a result of vehicular heatstroke.
    • 54% were forgotten in the vehicle.
    • 27% gained access by themselves and became trapped.
    • 18% were left intentionally.
    • 1% were unknown cases.
  • High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or death.
    • Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and a child’s major organs begin to shut down.
    • Heatstroke becomes fatal at a core body temperature of 107 degrees.
  • Heatstroke fatalities have occurred even in vehicles parked in shaded areas and when the air temperature was 80 degrees or less.

Additional Resources


Phoenix Children's Hostpital
Arizona Humane Society

Arizona Governors Office of Highway Safety