Since 1998, 764 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars
It only takes a few minutes for the inside of a car to get dangerously hot, and the near record-high temperatures in many regions of the country this summer pose a greater risk for heatstroke tragedies. Since 1998, 764 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Despite warnings from safety organizations, each year children continue to die from this needless tragedy.
“People often think that something like this could never happen to them,” said Amy Stracke, managing director of traffic safety advocacy for AAA – The Auto Club Group and executive director of the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation. “However, the majority of heatstroke deaths are accidents, where a parent or caregiver forgets the child is in the back seat.”
AAA and its Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation encourage anyone with small children to develop a regular, consistent reminder system for getting their children out of the car. In cases where children are left unintentionally, something usually happens — such as a change in routine — that takes the driver’s attention away from backseat passengers, especially when a child has fallen asleep.
“Child heatstroke deaths in vehicles are 100 percent preventable, and we want to make sure no parent or caregiver ever has to experience such unthinkable heartbreak,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida public affairs director for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We urge parents to think about their routines and what steps they can take to prevent a child from being left in the car.”
AAA and its Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation suggest the following safety tips to help keep children safe:
- Make it a Habit – Before locking your vehicle, check the front and back seat.
- Set an Alarm – Consider programming an alarm on your phone that will go off to remind you to check your vehicle.
- Caregiver Assistance – If you normally drop your child off at a babysitter or daycare, ask the caregiver to call you if your child doesn’t show up as expected.
- Add a Reminder– Put your purse/wallet or cell phone in the back seat. This way you are reminded to look in the back seat before leaving the vehicle.
- Don’t Leave Them Alone, Not Even for a Minute – Never leave children unattended in a vehicle -even if the windows are open or the air conditioning is running.
- Vehicles Aren’t Play Areas – Don’t let children play in an unattended vehicle.
- Put Keys Out of Sight – Always lock your vehicle – even in driveways and garages – and keep keys out of children’s reach.
- Call for Help – If you see a child or pet alone in the car, call 911 immediately and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.