Higher temperatures are among us as summer rapidly approaches, and new statistics have experts urging parents to never leave children unattended in hot cars.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 51 children died in hot cars in the United States in 2018, the highest number of deaths in U.S. history. The previous single-year high was in 2010 when 49 deaths in hot cars were reported, according to US News & World Report. And in 2019, three children under the age of 15 have already died from pediatric vehicular heatstroke.
“Last year, we set one of the saddest records in U.S. roadway safety history,” said Nick Smith, NSC interim president and CEO.
In an effort to educate the public, the NSC has released a free online course called Children in Hot Cars. The 15-minute interactive video paints a clear picture of the distractions that many parents and caregivers face, which often lead to children dying in overheated vehicles. It then provides various practices to prevent further tragedies from happening.
Think it can’t happen to you? Think again.
According to the NSC, hot-car deaths are a form of distracted driving in which the driver often forgets there is a child in the back seat, and in many unfortunate cases, does not remember until it’s too late.
“We believe this new training will go a long way toward educating people about pediatric vehicular heatstroke and empowering them with tips so they can avoid behaviors that can lead to these tragic deaths,” Smith said in an NSC news release.
Some of the recommendations from the video include:
- Maintain a routine to reduce the risk of forgetting a child in a vehicle.
Kidsincars.org recommends doing this by making a habit of opening the back door every time you park the car to ensure no one gets left behind.
- Keep parked car doors locked so children cannot get inside, and teach children that cars are not play areas.
[Twenty-seven] percent of the 798 children who have died from pediatric vehicular heatstroke since 1998 climbed into an unlocked car on their own.
- Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the backseat of a vehicle so you have to look there before you lock the vehicle.
The video also shares important information about why children are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures inside of vehicles.
- A child’s body overheats 3‐5 times faster than an adult body.
- The inside of a vehicle heats up VERY quickly! Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes.
- [Eighty percent] of the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes
- Cracking the windows does not help slow the heating process OR decrease the maximum temperature.
- Children have died from heatstroke in cars in temps as low as 60 degrees.
An average of 38 children younger than 15 die each year in the United States from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle or getting inside an unlocked vehicle, according to the NSC.
Let’s keep all kids safe this summer by taking necessary precautions to ensure no child gets left behind. Educate yourself and others about pediatric vehicular heatstroke—it could mean the difference between life and death.