The Dangers of Leaving a Child in a Hot Car
Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children and infants and toddlers are most at risk. 87% of children who have died in hot cars are under the age of 3. Unfortunately, even great parents can forget a child in the back seat. Other risk factors include caregivers who aren’t used to driving kids or whose routine suddenly changes. Whether you’re a parent, caregiver or bystander of a child left in a car, it’s vitally important to understand children are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults. Follow these 7 important rules and tips to protect children from heatstroke:
- Look before you lock. Open the backdoor and look in the backseat to assure that everyone is out of the car (even if you think you are childless).
- Keep something you need in the backseat. Put your cell phone, briefcase, computer, lunch, ID badge, left shoe, or anything essential to your daily routine beside your child.
- Travel with a furry companion. Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When baby is in the seat, the stuffed animal rides shotgun. The furry passenger serves as a reminder that baby’s in the back.
- Always lock the doors. Even if the car is in the garage, keep the doors locked to prevent curious children from getting into the car.
- Put the keys and fobs away. Kids might want to play with keys and be able to get into the car without parents knowledge.
- Have a plan with childcare provider. If your child does not show up to daycare or school without prior notice, someone should call to locate child.
- If you see something, do something. If you see a child alone in a car, do not hesitate to call 911.
Top Tips for Preventing Heatstroke
Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT.
Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure your phone, briefcase or purse in the backseat when traveling with your child.
Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations.
Hard Facts About Heatstroke
- On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. In more than half of these deaths, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car.
- A car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. And cracking a window doesn’t help.
- Heat levels in a car can reach extremes in a matter of two minutes.
- With temperatures in the 60’s, a car can heat up to well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
- Most children who die are less than one year old. One reason for this is that these people are new parents and grandparents who may not be used to having a little one in the back seat.
- Little children die when internal temperature reaches 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
What about if you’re walking by a car with a child in the back seat? Experts say that you should treat this as an emergency and call 911 right away. A matter of seconds could mean life or death for the child in the back seat.
For more information on how to prevent child heatstroke in vehicles, visit safekids.org/heatstroke.