Preventing Hot Car Deaths

An average of 37 kids dies from being in a hot car each year in the U.S.

These unimaginable tragedies can happen to anyone – regardless of age, sex, ethic group or socioeconomic background. Most hot car deaths are completely unintentional, with the child unknowingly left in the car or the child getting into the car on their own. Situations in which kids get hurt in hot cars include:

  • Infants and toddlers are simply forgotten in their car seat
  • Infants and toddlers are intentionally left in a hot car
  • Toddlers or preschoolers sneak into the car to play and can’t get out
  • Kids get trapped in the trunk

The Danger of a Hot Car for a Baby or Child

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “a locked car sitting in the summer sun quickly turns into an oven,” and, “temperatures can climb from 78 F to 100 F in just three minutes, to 125 F in 6-8 minutes.”

On a typical summer day, the temperature inside a car (even with the windows rolled down a little or parked in the shade) can quickly rise above 120 to 140 F. Even on a relatively mild day, the temperature inside a car can get above 100 F. At those temperatures, kids are at great risk for heat stroke, which can lead to a high fever, dehydration, seizures, stroke, and death.

Hot Car Safety Tips

To keep your kids safe:

  • Look Before You Lock: Make it a habit that you check the back seat each time you get out of the car before you lock the door, even if you aren’t transporting your child. Doing this every time will instill the habit.
  • Place a small toy or colorful note in your child’s car seat when it’s empty. Move it to your dashboard when you place your child in the car seat. This will help remind you that you have a child in the back seat.
  • Get your kids out of the car first, and then worry about the groceries.
  • Never leave your child in a car, which can quickly heat up, especially on a hot, sunny day.
  • Always lock your car and secure the keys so that your kids can’t get to them at home.
  • Warn your kids about playing in the car by themselves without adult supervision.
  • Install a trunk release mechanism, so that they can’t get trapped in the trunk.
  • Make sure that child care providers and daycare workers have a plan to ensure that kids aren’t left in the daycare providers car or van
  • Apps and sensor devices have been developed, but they should only be used in addition to developing habits that will help prevent these tragedies.

Also, be on alert for cars that might have an unattended child left inside. If you see a child alone in a car, be sure to call 911 and help make sure the child gets out as soon as possible.

And when a child is missing, in addition to checking the backyard pool and any other bodies of water, be sure to check inside the car and trunk of any nearby vehicles.

Casey & Devoti is a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. Together Partners Matt Casey and Matt Devoti have nearly 40 years of trial experience.  They handle a variety of personal injury matters, including:  car, truck and train accidents, victims of impaired and distracted driving, medical malpractice and birth injuries, product liability, slips/trips/falls, elder care and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation, and wrongful death.  Matt and Matt proudly serve clients throughout metropolitan St. Louis, southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois.  If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another, call the office today for a free, no-obligation consultation:  (314) 421-0763.

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