Preventing Heatstroke

Since 1998, more than 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.

Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke Academic Stakeholders Workgroup

  • Jan. 5, 2023: Jan Null and Kristin Kingsley lead this pediatric vehicular heatstroke discussion. Jessica Butterfield of the National Safety Council serves as moderator for the session. Null starts with a recap of PVH in 2022. He is a certified consulting meteorologist and adjunct professor at San Jose State University. He is considered one of the leading authorities on incidents involving kids and hot cars. He manages Kingsley provides an OEM voluntary commitment report. She is a policy and strategic planning expert with a background in engineering. She brings technical expertise and a love of problem solving to the world of auto safety. She operates KKingsley Consulting. After the two presentations, members of the workgroup separate into breakout sessions. Watch the recording.
  • Oct. 6, 2022: Lillian Muller, NOAA Hollings Scholar/NWS Louisville, talks about using data to improve messaging related to pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths. Then, Director Amber Rollins provides an update on the work of Kids and Cars Safety to make impact across the U.S. There is also time here for workgroup members to participate in breakout sessions on PVH research, communication and policy. Watch the recording.
  • July 14, 2022: Jan Null, a certified consulting meteorologist and adjunct professor at San Jose State University, leads a presentation for the academic stakeholders group — Technology and Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke Deaths: By the Numbers. Then, the group divides into breakout sessions to look at next steps in research, policy and communications. Watch the recording.

Full Playlist

If you’ve missed a meeting or want to review an older session, please click here to see the full playlist.

How You Can Help

Safe Kids WorldwideKidsAndCars.orgJan 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:

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? 

NHTSA Virtual Press Event: April 29, 2021

Resources for Employers

Did you know 1 in every 5 crashes occurs in a parking lot or parking garage? Or that as many as two-thirds of drivers may be pulling into or out of parking spaces while distracted? Distraction is also a contributing factor in some child heatstroke deaths in hot cars. Approximately 25% of all pediatric hot car deaths since 1998 have occured in a parked car at the driver’s place of work. Click on the Parking Lot Toolkit tab here and work to educate employees about distraction in parking lots.

What Else Can You Do?

  • 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