7 Ways to Prevent a Child From Dying in a Hot Parked Car

car seat child death heat stroke

With another hot summer upon us, the International Parking Institute (IPI) is hoping to change a grisly annual statistic: the 40-plus child deaths caused every year by heatstroke because they were forgotten by parents or caregivers in the backseat of hot parked cars.

Since the start of 2016*, at least 15 children have died in parked cars; 24 died in 2015. The more than 676 young lives lost since 1998 represents a tenfold increase since the early 1990s.

In more than half of the cases, a parent or caregiver forgot the child was left in the car; typically, they neglect to drop the child off at daycare, continuing on with their busy day with the child locked in the rear seat. Children who access an unlocked car account for nearly 30 percent of fatalities. Within 5 minutes, the interior of a parked car can reach lethal temperatures for a child, whose body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s.

Here are some important ways you can prevent a child from dying in a hot parked car this summer:

  1. Never leave your child in a parked car. Not even for a minute. When it’s warm outside, the temperature inside a parked car can rise to fatal heatstroke levels within minutes, even if the windows are partially open.
  2. Never leave your car without checking the backseat. Put your purse, wallet, or phone in the back seat as a reminder.
  3. Coordinate with daycare providers and nursery schools to call immediately if your child does not show up as scheduled.
  4. toddler sleeping car safetyCall 9-1-1 if you see a child alone in a car. Every minute counts.
  5. If your child is missing, check the pool, car, and trunk of car immediately.
  6. Keep car doors and trunks locked when parked. This will avoid kids from getting trapped inside while playing.
  7. Download the Baby Reminder app.  It will remind you that kids are in the car when you arrive at your destination. The app description: “Simply set the days and time intervals in which you usually drive your children. Baby Reminder will automatically monitor and determine when you are driving and when not. An alert reminding you not to forget your child in the car will be sent shortly after you arrive at your destination.”

Being a parent is hectic, busy, and stressful. Leaving a child in a hot car can happen to ANYONE. We have all had our moments of absent-mindedness… and moments of panic when we realize our mistake. Preparation is key and being pro-active with safety will ensure a fun and safe summer for everyone! Share this information with all of your children’s caregivers.

One final note: Keep all of the above steps in mind for your pets too. Never leave a pet in a hot car, even with the windows cracked.

For more information, visit parking.org/safety.

A new public service ad and fact sheet may be downloaded here.

*As of June 21, 2016. 

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