Children dying from heatstroke in cars has significantly increased over the past few years. In April, the first vehicular heatstroke death of 2020 tragically occurred when a toddler in Texas left his home unsupervised and climbed into an unlocked, parked vehicle. His death follows 52 hot car deaths in 2019 and a record 53 in 2018.
While some parents knowingly leave a child in the car and some children gain access to an unattended vehicle, a shocking 54% of hot car deaths are the result of a parent (or caregiver) forgetting that a child is in the car.
So how can hot car deaths be prevented?
- Make it a habit to check the vehicle every time you exit to make sure the child is not forgotten when you get to the destination.
- Always lock your car and store keys safely away from children. While it’s easy for a child to get into a car without your knowledge, it’s easier to make sure that the car is not accessible to them. Teach kids that a car is not a place for play!
- Never ever leave a child alone in a car, even if the windows are down. When the outside temperature is 85 degrees, after just 10 minutes the temperature inside a car can climb to 104, after 20 minutes to 114, and so on.
- Take the free online hot car safety course offered by the National Safety Council: https://training.nsc.org/hot-cars/
Is it illegal to leave a child in the car? The answer is yes. Hot cars and children should never mix. In Pennsylvania, a person commits an offense if he/she leaves a child younger than six years of age unattended when the motor vehicle is out of the person’s sight and under circumstances which endanger the health, safety or welfare of the child.
If you see a child alone in a vehicle, make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.