June 25, 2024

Hot car deaths are preventable, so stay alert as warm weather returns

As summer approaches, it’s important to be mindful of the safety of children and pets in cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an average of 37 children die each year from heatstroke after being left in vehicles. This tragic statistic means that a child dies in this manner in America approximately every 10 days.

In 2018 and 2019, there were 53 child heatstroke deaths each year. Since 1998, a total of 969 children have lost their lives in this way. These numbers are devastating, and it’s crucial to raise awareness about this issue.

May 1 is observed as National Heatstroke Prevention Day by the NHTSA. Efforts to educate the public about the dangers of leaving children and pets in hot cars have shown some progress, with the number of child heatstroke deaths decreasing to 29 last year.

Unfortunately, pets, especially dogs, are also at risk of heatstroke when left in cars. While there are no specific statistics available, it’s evident that this is a common occurrence.

It’s essential to remember that the danger of hot cars is not limited to warm weather. Even on cooler days, the temperature inside a sealed vehicle can quickly become life-threatening. Consumer Reports testing revealed that an outside temperature of 61 degrees could lead to an interior temperature of 105 degrees in just one hour.

NHTSA highlights three scenarios that put children at risk of heatstroke:

  1. Children being forgotten in vehicles by parents or caregivers.
  2. Children gaining access to unlocked vehicles and becoming trapped inside.
  3. Children being knowingly left in vehicles by adults who underestimate the speed at which a car can heat up.

To prevent these tragedies, NHTSA emphasizes that children should never be left alone in a vehicle, even for a minute. It’s a message reiterated by NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman in a video released on National Heatstroke Prevention Day.

If you encounter a child or pet in distress inside a locked car, call 911 immediately. Many states have Good Samaritan laws in place to protect individuals who need to take action to rescue a child or pet from a hot car.

Automakers have started incorporating reminder safety systems to address this issue, with a federal mandate for all vehicles to have a back-seat occupant alert system by 2025. Some car models also feature a Dog Mode to keep the cabin cool for pets.

Until reminder systems are standard in all vehicles, it’s important for caregivers to develop habits like checking the back seat before leaving the car. Remembering to “Stop, Look, Lock” can help prevent tragic accidents.

Keep in mind that the safety of children and pets in hot cars is a shared responsibility. By staying vigilant and informed, we can work together to prevent heatstroke deaths.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *