Preventing Child Heatstroke Deaths in Hot Cars

With the hot summer months already upon us, The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and Safe Kids Worldwide announced a new partnership that is focused on preventing the heatstroke deaths of children in this country.  To increase public awareness of  the danger of heatstroke in children, the two organizations will be hosting public events throughout July as heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children under the age of 14.  In 2011, at least 33 deaths from heatstroke in vehicles were reported.

Caregivers are urged to think, “Where’s Baby?  Look before you lock a car.”  Since 1998, approximately 532 children, most under age three, have lost their lives to heatstroke after being left in a car.  This is a tragedy that can happen to any caregiver, whether it be a parent or caregiver, from any walk of life.  The majority of these cases are, of course, accidental, but they can happen to even the most conscientious and loving parent or caregiver. 

When outside temperatures are in the low 80’s, it only takes ten minutes for the temperature in a closed vehicle to reach deadly levels, even with a window rolled down two inches.  Children younger then four are at the greatest risk for heat-related illness as their bodies overheat easily.  Heatstroke not only results in children’s deaths, but other ailments such as brain damage, blindness and the loss of hearing.

NHTSA and Safe Kids will be visiting Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri, Georgia and Arizona to urge parents and caregivers to take the following precautions to prevent heatstroke incidents from occurring.

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are cracked and the engine is running with the air conditioner on
  • Make a habit of looking in both seats of a vehicle before locking the door and walking away
  • Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected
  • Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle.  This could be placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to make sure the child isn’t accidentally left in the vehicle, or writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in view to indicate a child is in the car seat
  • Teach children a vehicle is not a safe play area and store car keys out of the reach of children

To learn more about NHTSA’s new program, visit, and to learn additional information about Safe Kids campaign, visit