Temps Soaring – Hot Car Deaths Increase

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Source: Anna Kraynova/123RF

With temperatures expected to reach the high 90’s and 100’s in some areas in California in the coming days and weeks, more children left in hot cars are expected to die.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), on April 25, we saw the first vehicular heatstroke death of 2020, when a 4-year-old left at home and climbed into a vehicle without his family noticing.

His death follows 52 hot car deaths in 2019, and a record 53 deaths in 2018.

The majority of hot car deaths — 54% — happen because someone forgets a child in a car. 

So far this year, 14 children have died of heatstroke:

  • About 46% of the time when a child was forgotten, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at a daycare or preschool.
  • Thursdays and Fridays — the end of the workweek — have had the highest deaths.
  • Nearly 75% of children who are forgotten and die, are under 2 years old.

The NHTSA has the following tips for keeping children safe:

  • Check for baby – get in the habit of always looking inside your car before locking the doors. Remember: Park. Look. Lock. And always ask yourself, “Where’s Baby?”
  • Keep your doors locked – the second leading cause —  25% — of such deaths are children getting into unattended vehicles;
  • Never leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down or the air conditioning on. A child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult’s;

If you see a child alone in a vehicle, make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.

  • If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents; if at a public place, have the facility page the car owner over an intercom system. 
  • If the child is not responsive and appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window. Many states have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency.


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