Last year, 52 children died from being left in a hot car. It marks the deadliest year on record in the past 20 years, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). The previous record was 49 deaths in 2010. Since 1998, almost 800 children have died from vehicular heatstroke. The report comes as warmer weather is on the horizon, and will hopefully serve as a life-saving reminder for parents hitting the road this summer.
When parents hear an awful story about a baby or child dying after being left in a hot car, the first thing they think is it would never happen to them. In fact, in a 2018 KarsForKids survey, only 16 percent of parents were concerned about such a tragedy happening to them. But the truth is it can happen to anyone, and the best things parents can do is to take the proper steps to prevent it.
It doesn’t have to be an extremely hot day for the danger to be present. Temperatures inside vehicles can reach life-threatening levels even on mild or cloudy days. Leaving the windows slightly open isn’t enough—children should never be left unattended. The three primary circumstances resulting in deaths of children in hot cars are:
- Forgetting a child in a car
- A kid gaining unattended access to a car
- Someone knowingly leaving a child in a car.
The first step is to educate yourself and others on the threat hot cars pose. NSC offers a free online course about the danger of vehicular heatstroke in children and what you can do to prevent it from happening to your family.
NSC encourages parents to stick to a routine and avoid distractions that may cloud their focus. Another safety precaution is to place a bag or briefcase in the back seat to hopefully force one last look before walking away. Make sure all the doors are locked when you and your kiddos aren’t in the car, and teach them the car is not a play space. Luckily, a bunch of car manufacturers now offer technology to help prevent children from being forgotten inside cars, including rear seat reminders and advanced car seat technology.
Click here for more information and resources to ensure a tragedy like this doesn’t happen to you.