With Summer's Sizzle, Tips for Preventing Hot Car Fatalities

posted by Angel Smith on Wednesday, July 12, 2023

You think your errand will take just a quick moment and rather than hassling with getting your child out of the car seat, you decide the child will be fine comfortably waiting inside. Think again.

In 2022, 33 children died from being in a hot car.  According to noheatstroke.org, so far in 2023 there have been 11 child deaths from vehicular heatstroke.

While there can be several dangers to leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, the biggest danger is heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other body organs, and can even lead to death.

Children’s body temperature can rise faster than an adult. This is why it is important to never leave a child in a vehicle unattended. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees, and a child can die when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees.

The temperature inside a car can increase 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. It doesn’t need to feel hot outside to be dangerous inside a vehicle. Also, cracking a window slightly does not prevent temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.

The first rule is to never leave a child alone in a vehicle. While you may think you’d never forget your child in the backseat, it can happen. So, even if you think, “I’d never,” please develop some safe guards into your routine to help prevent a potential tragedy.

While some states have laws against leaving a child inside a car, Iowa does not have a specific law. However, a person could be charged with child endangerment, and if injury or death occurred, more serious charges could be filed.

Here are a few helpful tips to help prevent hot car deaths:

  • Make it a habit to check the backseat before you leave the vehicle.
  • Put your purse or a personal item that you know you’ll need when you exit your vehicle in the backseat as a reminder to look.
  • Keep your keys out of reach of children.
  • Teach children that a vehicle is not a place to play.
  • Ask your daycare provider to call you if your child is not at daycare when expected to be.
  • If your vehicle has a rear seat reminder alert, use it.
  • If you see a child unattended in a locked vehicle call 911. If they appear ill, get them out as quickly as possible.

And, while the focus of this article is on children, remember these safety tips also apply for dependent adults and your pets. Please remember these tips to enjoy your summer safely.

NHTSA Heat Safety

  1. children

About The Author

Angel Smith

Angel is the Director of Clay County Public Health. She is passionate about serving the community.