Last year, 51 U.S. children died in hot cars — the highest rate of pediatric vehicular heatstroke ever recorded. These tragedies affected every state except for Alaska, New Hampshire and Vermont. They struck every month of the year. Furthermore, nearly 800 children have died in hot cars since 1998. Of these deaths, 24-percent occurred in employer parking lots during the parent’s or caretaker’s workday.
The National Safety Council (NSC) shares this tragic data during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, in an ongoing effort to curb distracted driving and its dangerous consequences. These alarming statistics emphasize that there is never a safe time to leave a young child alone in the car. Many parents aren’t aware of why and how cars can heat up so quickly — even during the winter, on cloudy days or with the windows open.
To empower parents and caregivers, NSC created a free 15-minute e-learning course for anyone interested in learning or teaching more about this subject, available at nsc.org/hotcars. Additionally, the Council shares the following tips to prevent children being left behind in vehicles:
- Keep car doors locked when not in use so that children cannot get inside them without adult help.
- Teach children that cars are not toys or places to play.
- Keep important items like your purse, briefcase, phone or left shoe in the backseat of the vehicle next to your child, as a reminder to always “look before you lock”.
- Consider a car seat equipped with a smart chest clip, which sounds an alarm after the vehicle is turned off.
Safety.com is committed to helping you keep your family safe. Check out our other posts on family car safety and preventing distracted driving: