Can you die if you are locked up in a car?

On the 9th of September, two little girls in Gurgaon managed to let themselves into their new family car, a Toyota Etios sedan. It was a hot afternoon with temperature reaching about 34 degrees Celsius. Even as the mother of the toddlers, aged 2 and 4 respectively, took an afternoon nap, a deadly catastrophe was unfolding meters away.

Can you die if you are locked up in a car?

What was to be a play session soon turned tragic as both girls were found dead in the car. The initial cause of death was said to be “due to suffocation”. This brings us to the topic at hand. Can you die if you’re locked up in a car. Short answer, yes. But how does this deadly event actually play out in real life? We explain.

What causes a car to be so suffocating to cause death?

1. Temperature.

2. Lack of air circulation.

In case of the tragic death of the two toddlers in Gurgaon, the temperature was hovering around 34 degrees Celsius or about 93 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, a car that’s been standing in the sun from the morning through the afternoon can get very hot.

Here are some figures. A University of Georgia study indicates that a parked car with the outside temperature hovering at 27 Degrees Celsius can heat to about 35 Degrees in 10 minutes. In about half an hour, this temperature would have reached 43 Degrees Celsius, and in an hour the temperature could be over 50 Degrees Celsius.

Can you die if you are locked up in a car?

[Image courtesy Noheatstroke]

This kind of temperature is enough to kill human beings as heat stroke conditions set in rapidly. Now add rolled up windows and you have all the making of a tragedy waiting to happen, especially if kids or pets happen to be in the car.

Though a car is not completely sealed, air circulation through the car is minimal when it’s left parked under the hot sun, with no breeze outside.This is perhaps how the toddlers from Gurgaon met their makers, in the most heart wrenching way.

Who would have thought that a play session could go so horribly wrong.  Never, ever leave kids or pets unattended in a car. Hundreds of kids and pets (mostly dogs) succumb to hyperthermia (heat stroke) each year, after being left unattended to in cars. And as adults, we need to take sufficient precautions.

If you have to stay in the car under a hot sun,

1. Roll up the windows, start the car and turn on the air conditioning.

2. You can keep the windows rolled down so that enough air circulates in case the car’s engine is turned off.

2. Keep yourself hydrated and move to a cooler area if it gets uncomfortably hot.

Via TheTimesOfIndia


Jayprashanth Mohanram

Jayprashanth, the News Editor at, has a seasoned history in motoring journalism spanning 15 years. His lifelong passion for cars led him to a career in automotive journalism, offering readers compelling insights. With an engineering background, Jay has crafted pieces that have gained recognition in notable publications such as the New York Times. Prior to his role at, where he has overseen news operations since 2016, Jay was the founding editor of and spent two years as the news editor at Team-bhp. At Cartoq, he ensures the news is timely, accurate, and resonates with the brand's dedicated audience of automotive enthusiasts. (Full bio)