Heatwave Heightens Danger for Kids in Cars

By Jennifer Newman  on July 18, 2013


As of July 10, 21 children have died this year because they were left in hot cars and suffered hyperthermia or heatstroke, according to KidsandCars.org. It can happen when a harried parent forgets to drop off their sleeping baby at day care and instead hurries off to work or a when a child “plays” in a car or its trunk and becomes trapped.

With a heat wave bearing down on most of the nation, it’s a good time to remind parents and caregivers of simple steps to make sure children stay safe in cars this summer.

The leading cause of non-crash car deaths for young kids is heatstroke or hyperthermia, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. KidsandCars.org, a nonprofit child-safety organization, recommends the following to keep kids safe:
  • Don’t allow children to play in or around cars — ever.
  • When you strap your child in a child-safety seat, put your cellphone, purse or briefcase on the floor of the rear seat, forcing you to check back there for your item and your child.
  • Always open the car’s back door when you reach your destination to check that no child has been forgotten.
  • Put a large stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s not in use, and when your child is in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front seat to remind you that the child is in the car.
  • Talk with your sitter or day-care center to call immediately if your child isn’t there when they’re supposed to be.
  • Keep parked cars locked at all times and with the parking brake set, so kids can’t play in them.
  • Keep keys and key fobs out of a child’s reach.
  • If a child is missing, check cars and their trunks.

Most importantly, if you see a child alone in a car, find the parent or caregiver. If the child seems sick or unresponsive, get them out of the car immediately — even if you have to break a window to do so.

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Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Newman is a certified car-seat technician. A mom of two, she owns a 2013 Subaru Outback crammed with sports gear.  Email Jennifer