baby in backseat of hot car a Preventable Heat Stroke

Many of us don’t think we could ever FORGET and just leave our child in a car. But it happens. It happens to loving parents and caregivers and it happens more often than we realize. The average number of deaths per year since 1998 is 37 — this means one fatality every 9 days.

According to data from the organization, leaving a child in a car happens to loving parents. It’s surprising for us to learn, but in over 55% of these types of cases, the person responsible for the child’s death unknowingly left them in the vehicle. And in the majority of these situations it happens to the most loving, caring and protective parents.

U.S. Child Vehicular Heatstroke Circumstances (1990‐2015)

  • Unknowingly left – 55% (413 fatalities)
  • Got in on their own – 28% (212 fatalities)
  • Knowingly left – 13% (100 fatalities)
  • UNK – 4% (30 fatalities)

The Greenhouse Effect in Vehicles


  • 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.
  • 80% 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.

Prevention / Safety Tips from

Below are some simple tips parents and caregivers can follow to prevent leaving your child in a car and avoiding heat stroke tragedies.

child sleeping in backseat

  • “Look Before You Lock” – Get in the habit of always opening the back door to check the back seat before leaving your vehicle. Make sure no child has been left behind.
  • Create a reminder to check the back seat.
  • Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., in the back seat so that you have to open the back door to retrieve that item every time you park.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, place the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.
  • childcare-providerMake sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop–off. Everyone involved in the care of your child should always be aware of their whereabouts. If your child will not be attending daycare as scheduled, it is the parent’s responsibility to call and inform the childcare provider. If your child does not show up as scheduled; and they have not received a call from the parent, the childcare provider pledges to contact you immediately to ensure the safety of your child. (this is very similar to the ‘absence–line’ used by most elementary, middle and high schools)
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.
  • Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
  • If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
  • Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
  • Use drivethru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) and pay for gas at the pump.

Please follow and share these important safety tips with everyone who has a role in keeping your child (and other children) safe – It could save a child’s life!