NHTSA press release

It can happen in minutes. A child is accidentally left alone in a vehicle or gets in on his or her own, and the temperature inside the car or truck starts to rise. It doesn’t need to be a hot day; when the temperature outside is as low as 60 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 110 degrees. If a child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees, that child will die.

On average, 37 children die each year from vehicular heatstroke, according to noheatstroke.org. Already this year, long before people in many parts of the country are experiencing warm weather, a child in Miami died when accidentally left behind in a vehicle. This tragedy represents the circumstances of most heatstroke deaths: parents and caregivers who are overwhelmed and distracted unintentionally leave a child behind in a vehicle.

If you think this could never happen to you, you’ve already made a tragic mistake that could lead to heartbreak. A profile from several years ago shows that heatstroke tragedies can happen to even the most doting, loving, caring parents.

Now that you know the truth about heatstroke, you can protect your family. Follow these tips:

  • Look Before You Lock. Get into the routine of always checking the back seat of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
  • A Gentle Reminder. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place your phone, briefcase, or purse in the backseat when traveling with your child.
  • A Routine Check. If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
  • A Key to Safety. Keep your vehicle locked and keep your keys out of reach; nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.
  • Act Fast to Save a Life. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911. Chances are the child was left by accident. If the child appears in distress or is non-responsive, remove the child from the vehicle and spray the child with cool water.

You now know a heatstroke tragedy can happen to any family. Be prepared to prevent it. Follow these tips to protect your child. Share them with family and friends so they understand the danger, too. Together, we can stop vehicular heatstroke deaths.