Preventing Heatstroke

Since 1998, almost 900 children have died of vehicular heatstroke because they were left or became trapped in a hot car. It’s important for everyone to understand that children are more vulnerable to heatstroke and that all hot car deaths are preventable. We — as parents, caregivers and bystanders — play a role in helping to make sure another death doesn’t happen.

How You Can Help

Safe Kids Worldwide,, Jan Null ( and the National Safety Council work together with many other partners to help eliminate these preventable tragedies, and we’re asking you to join us. Below you will find free monthly newsletters that include sample social media posts, resources and personal stories – in short, tools you can use to help inform others and ensure that no family has to endure the loss of a child to heatstroke in hot cars.

Heatstroke Prevention Newsletters:

NHTSA Virtual Press Event: April 29, 2021

Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke Academic Stakeholders Workgroup

  • Oct. 7, 2021: In this meeting, collaboration and partnerships are discussed in “Zoomtable” fashion. Jan Null, lecturer and adjunct professor at San Jose State University, provides a glimpse of what is driving child hot cars deaths and talks about how incidents have declined for the second year in a row because so many still are working from home. Watch the recording.
  • Aug. 5, 2021: Carrie Redden, director of health and planning at toXcel, and Laurel Glenn, research scientist at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, deliver presentations to kick off the meeting. Then, the group discusses its moving-forward mission. Watch the recording.
  • May 27, 2021: Group purpose is outlined in this first meeting — To work collaboratively and advance next steps in vehicular heatstroke prevention. Watch the recording.

Articles by Dr. David Diamond

While there are three primary circumstances that typically lead to pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) deaths, a little more than half of all PVH deaths over the past 20 years have resulted from children who were unknowingly left in the vehicle. It is commonly reported that in the course of a drive, a parent or caretaker loses awareness of the presence of a child in the back seat of the car. Upon arriving at the destination, the driver exits the car and unknowingly leaves the child in the car. This incomprehensible lapse of memory exposes forgotten children to hazards, including death from heatstroke. More than 400 children in the past 20 years have suffered from heatstroke after being unknowingly forgotten in vehicles. How can loving and attentive parents, with no evidence of substance abuse or an organic brain disorder, have a catastrophic lapse of memory that places a child’s welfare in jeopardy? The articles below by Dr. David Diamond address this question.

Children dying in hot cars; a tragedy that can be prevented

When a child dies of heatstroke after a parent or caretaker unknowingly leaves the child in a car: How does it happen and is it a crime? 

  • Prevent Child Deaths in Hot Cars:
    • Facts about Hot Cars & Keeping Kids Safe
    • Know the Laws in Your State
    • Take Action if You See a Child Alone in a Car
      • What to do if the child is not responsive or in pain
      • What to do if the child is responsive
    • Things You Can Do to Prevent the Unthinkable
  • Protecting Children from Extreme Heat: Information for Parents
    • Prevention tips
    • Potential Health Effects of Extreme Heat
    • When to Call Your Pediatrician

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association is actively involved in efforts to prevent children from dying in hot cars. JPMA believes that the most universal way to avert these tragedies is to equip new passenger vehicles with reminder systems and consider the potential for retrofitting existing vehicles with such systems.

Read the full statement: JPMA Hyperthermia/Heatstroke Position Statement.

Protecting Children from Heatstroke in Vehicles

Watch: Kristin Kingsley, a mechanical engineer and auto safety policy consultant, moderates this recorded webinar. The featured speakers: Amy Artuso, senior program manager with the National Safety Council and former chair of the National Child Passenger Safety Board; and Jan Null, an adjunct professor/lecturer of meteorology at the University of San Francisco and San Jose State University.

Heatstroke in Cars

Keeping Cars Safe for Kids: Working to Prevent Pediatric Heatstroke. This discussion focuses on ways to help prevent pediatric heatstroke through public awareness and technology advancements.

Resources and information, including a voluntary commitment by vehicle manufacturers