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Deaths of 21 Children in Overheated Cars Prompt Safety Review

July 26 (Bloomberg) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking to limit the number of child deaths in overheated cars after 21 perished so far this year.

Last year, 49 children under age 14 died of hyperthermia in cars, according to a report from San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences. About half of children who died from heat stroke in cars from 1998 through 2010 had been forgotten by caregivers, the school said. Other deaths were caused by playing in unattended vehicles or youngsters left inside intentionally.

“Not one of those children should have lost their lives in this horrible way,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement today. “We need to do everything we can to remind people to be vigilant.”

NHTSA officials met today with auto industry representatives, car-seat manufacturers and consumer groups to limit risk. Objects inside a vehicle can rise to 123 degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees Celsius) after an hour on an 80-degree day, according to a presentation on the university’s website. The agency plans to hold additional meetings.

Hyperthermia, or heat stroke, is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under 14, NHTSA said.

Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories covered parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas today, according to the National Weather Service. Yesterday’s high temperature in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was 97 degrees, the first time in 11 days it didn’t reach 100, according to the weather service.

Since June 27, the temperature has hit 100 more than 20 times in Tulsa.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brooke Sutherland in New York at bsutherland5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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