Preventing Hot Car Death

Beat the Heat: Never leave kids alone in a car

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn of the dangers of children in hot cars. On average, one child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle every seven days. There are some common misconceptions about this danger.

“It’s not that hot out.” “I’ll only be a few minutes”. Cars get hot fast and children are even more susceptible to the heat. Researchers have found that if a car is parked in direct sunlight, temperatures inside the car can reach as high as 131° F to 171° F in only 15 minutes. Children are vulnerable to heatstroke for many reasons, such as their small blood volume in relation to their body and their inability to sweat the same amount as adults. Children’s bodies can overheat three to five times more quickly than an adult’s.

“I would never forget my child in the car” Anyone can mistakenly leave a child in the back seat, even a loving and attentive parent. Children are at a higher risk for being left in the back seat if the individual driving is distracted or there is a change in the typical routine. 

Remember these tips

  • Never leave kids in the car alone. 
  • Always check the back seat for children before locking the car and walking away.
  • Keep the car locked to prevent kids from getting in on their own.
  • Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when it is empty. Move the stuffed animal to the front seat when your child is in the vehicle. 
  • Parents can also secure their purse, briefcase, or phone on the floor of the backseat as a reminder to check. 
  • Avoid being distracted by talking on a cell phone or texting.
  • Ask your childcare provider to call if your child is not dropped off as expected. 
  • Take action. Call 911 if you see a child alone in a car.

By Drs. Ryan Aubrey (PGY-2) and Bertina Loui (PGY-3)