Hot Car Safety for Children and Pets

Dashia Starr
Updated Feb 25, 2021
2 min read
Over the past 20 years, over 200 children have died from heatstrokes in hot cars. Here’s what you can do to keep your kids and pets safe. It all starts with looking before you lock and leave your car.

Leaving children and pets in a car unattended can be dangerous — even deadly. Unfortunately, despite countless messages and campaigns from experts children are left in cars, sometimes on purpose. It doesn’t take long for a few seconds in a car alone to become fatal. Here’s what you need to know to avoid the unthinkable with your child or pet.

Hot Car Child Deaths Stats and Facts to Consider

According to the National Safety Council, the number of children dying from being left in hot cars is rising. In fact, 2018 was the deadliest year over the past two decades. Here are some other statistics to consider.

  • 53.8% of children are forgotten.
  • 26.3% of children get access to the car without the adult knowing.
  • 18.6% knowingly left a child in the car. .pjg from WP right
  • 24% of deaths occur in company parking lots when adults were at work.
  • Since 1998, more than 200 children have died from vehicular heatstrokes.

Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), 75% of hot car deaths in children happen to kids under the age of two. And nearly half of deaths happen when a parent forgot to drop the child off at daycare.

How Hot Car Deaths Happen

Hot car deaths often stem from heatstrokes — when the body cannot cool itself down fast enough. Deaths can happen when the child’s body reaches 107 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Healthy Children, heatstrokes are the no. 1 cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of 15.

Findings from show that children’s bodies get hotter faster than adults’ do. It’s important to remember that heatstrokes don’t only happen when it’s scorching outside: They can accord in outdoor temperatures as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit, Healthy Children reports. And it only takes 10 minutes for a car to become hot enough for a heatstroke — increasing up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Many think that cracking a car window helps, but it actually does very little to reduce the rising body and car temperatures.

How to Prevent Child Deaths in Hot Cars

Child hot car deaths are 100% preventable if you follow these simple tips each time you get out of the car.

  • Never leave a child alone in a car for even a second.
  • Look before you leave. Put your purse, wallet or other valuables in the backseat to make sure you have a reason to reach back before you leave.
  • Be especially careful when you’re in someone else’s car or you’re in another person’s car, which could change your routine of looking before you leave.
  • Make sure your cars are locked to prevent children from getting back in the car without you knowing.
  • Keep your keys out of children’s reach to prevent them from unlocking the car and getting back in.

What to Do if You See a Child Alone in a Car

If you see a child alone in a car do not ignore them. Following these simple steps right away can save a life.

  • If the child seems okay, stay with the child. Call inside the store or ask someone to get a store manager for assistance in locating the parents over the intercom with a description of the car.
  • If the child is nonresponsive or in any pain call 9-1-1 immediately. Try to get the child out of the car by any means necessary. Try to cool the child down with cool water on their skin.

Hot Car Safety Goes for Pets, Too

Pets left alone in a hot car are also in danger. In fact, PETA shared that leaving them unattended in a hot car can lead to brain damage from heatstroke in less than 15 minutes. Even though it might be cooler outside, temperatures inside a car can increase in a matter of minutes.

If you see a pet in a car, the Humane Society recommends following similar recommendations as responding to children. If the pet is unresponsive or in pain call the police non-emergency line or your local animal control department for immediate help. Don’t leave the car until the owner or help arrives.

Instead of leaving your pet unattended, consider leaving them at home while you run errands. If you’d like to bring them along for pet-friendly activities follow the same recommendation for leaving children: look in the back seat before you lock and leave your car. Consider putting a leash or your purse in the back seat as a reminder.

State Laws for Leaving Children and Pets in Hot Cars

If you see a nonresponsive child in a car and need to get them out, there are laws in some states to protect you from legal action. Most states have a Good Samaritan Law for bystanders to rescue children and pets from hot cars without worrying about a lawsuit.

But in the unfortunate case that you leave a child or pet in a hot car, there are severe consequences. The No Heat Stroke campaign shared the most recent laws for each state, and leaving a child unattended can result in hefty fines or felony charges.

Is it Ever Safe to Leave Pets or Children in the Car?

No. Leaving pets or children unattended in a car is far too risky for their health and safety. Remember to always look before you leave and create a routine that requires you to check the backseat before you leave. Temperatures can rise quickly and the signs aren’t always clear that they’re OK. Never leave a child or pet unattended in your car for any amount of time.

Home Security Writer

Dashia Starr

Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.

Like what you've read?

Share it with your friends