|Where's Baby?? Look Before You Lock: Kids in Hot Cars Don't Mix
Gale Blomenkamp, Battalion Chief, MPIO/Parents Central/Safecar.gov - Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Vehicles heat up quickly. The National
Highway Traic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) and other safety advocates and
academic institutions have recognized the
safety threat heatstroke poses for leaving
children in hot cars. Here are the key facts.
Heatstroke is the leading cause of
non-crash-related fatalities for children
14 and younger.
• From 1998-2013 606 children died due
to heatstroke, representing 61 percent
of total non-crash fatalities in this age
group. Of the 606 deaths:
• 52% were forgotten in the vehicle.
• 29% gained access by themselves
and became trapped
• 18% were left intentionally
• 1% were unknown cases
• In 2013 44 children died of heatstroke
in the U.S.
• Children are at a higher risk than adults
of dying from heatstroke in a hot
vehicle especially when they are too
young to communicate.
• A child’s temperature heats up 3 to 5
times faster than that of an adult’s.
High body temperatures can cause
permanent injury or even death.
• Heatstroke begins when the core
body temperature reaches about 104
degrees and the thermoregulatory
system is overwhelmed. A core
temperature of about 107 degrees
• In 10 minutes a car can heat up 20
degrees. Rolling down a window does
little to keep it cool.
• Heatstroke fatalities have occurred
even in vehicles parked in shaded areas
and when the air temperatures were 80
degrees F or less.
• Heatstroke can occur in temperatures
as low as 57 degrees.
• The warning signs vary, but may
• Red, hot, and moist or dry skin
• No sweating
• A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak
• A throbbing headache
• Being grouchy or acting strangely
It can happen to anyone.
• In 52 percent of cases the child was
“forgotten” by the caregiver.
• In more than 29
percent of cases, a
child got into the
vehicle on their own.
Kids in hot cars are a deadly combination.
Whether intentional or accidental, these
deaths are preventable, which makes it all
the more tragic. Here are some helpful tips
to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
• Never leave a child alone in a parked
car, even with the windows rolled
down, or air conditioning on. Children’s
body temperature can heat up 3 to
5 times faster than adults. A core
temperature of 107 is lethal.
• Always look in both the front and back
of the vehicle before locking the door
and walking way.
• Heatstroke can occur in temperatures
as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree
day, temperatures inside a vehicle can
reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
• Never let children play in an
unattended vehicle. Teach them a
vehicle is not a play area.
• Always lock your vehicle doors and
trunk and keep the keys out of a child’s
reach. If a child is missing, quickly check
all vehicles, including the trunk.
Is ping a child of not part of your
normal routine? Come up with some ways to
remind yourself that the child is in the car.
• Place an item that you keep on you,
like a briefcase or purse, in the back
seat next to the car seat, so that you’ll
always check the back seat before you
leave the car.
•Call your spouse after you the
child of to make sure you didn’t forget.
•Have daycare call you if your child
doesn’t show up.
• Write a note and place it on the
dashboard of the car. Or set a reminder
on your cell phone or calendar. You can
also download the Baby Reminder App
If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle:
• Call 911 or your local emergency
• If they are in distress due to heat, get
them out as quickly as possible. Cool
the child rapidly, by spraying them with
cool water or a garden hose. NEVER use
an ice bath.
Remember: kids in hot cars are a deadly
combination. Don’t take the chance.
Look before you lock.
• National Highway Traic Safety
Administration - www.safercar.gov/
• San Francisco State University,
Department of Earth & Climate Studies -
• Safe Kids - www.safekids.org
• Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia -