Since 1998, more than 960 children in the U.S. 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.
Across the country, about 38 kids die every year in hot cars. The three main reasons:
- Forgotten: The most common occurrence is when a change in routine or distraction results in the child being left in the car, for example, rather than being dropped off at childcare. More than 50% of cases involve forgotten children.
- Access to unlocked vehicle: The second most frequent occurrence involves children gaining access to unlocked vehicles. More than 25% of cases can be attributed to kids getting into cars on their own and not being able to get back out. Often young children are able to open a vehicle door from the outside, but are unable to open the door or identify how to exit a vehicle from the inside.
- Intentionlly left behind: In about 20% of cases, kids are intentionally left in hot cars. Some believe it’s safe to leave children in a vehicle for a few minutes, even it’s hot. No matter the reason, a child left in a vehicle can experience a rapid temperature rise, one that can be life-threateing within minutes.