hot cars

If you live in a hot country, it is not unusual to hear stories of children who died from heat stroke inside a parked car. This tragedy is preventable, but only with education and awareness. Each year, more than 40 children die from this condition called Pediatric Vehicular Heat Stroke when left alone in a car. The dark, enclosed interior of a car acts like a greenhouse, heating up rapidly on sunny days. The temperatures inside the car can double in a matter of minutes and kill the child inside. This is why it is so important to remember to never leave your kids in a hot car, even if the windows are cracked.

Children’s body temperature heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s and they sweat less, making them more vulnerable to the dangerous effects of overheating in a car. They also have more difficulty regulating their internal temperature. It only takes 20 minutes on an 80-degree day for a car’s interior to become deadly, even with the sun’s rays coming through the windows.

For some reason, this tragedy continues to occur each summer. The number of deaths this year (2022) has actually decreased, but it is still an unacceptable statistic. Most cases of children left in cars are not intentional, and happen due to a combination of forgetfulness or a change in routine. Some parents may not even realize their child is in the back seat, while others simply forget to bring a jacket or book with them to the park or the store and leave their kids in the car while they run in and out.

Sometimes, children may also be left in cars intentionally by their caregivers because they are not thinking clearly or are distracted. This can happen when someone is running errands and the child has been in the back seat of the car for hours, or they are distracted when the person is picking up groceries or a pizza to go with their dinner.

Other factors can contribute to these tragedies, including a lack of sleep or stress, and the fact that it is easy to overlook a sleeping child in the back seat of a car. For this reason, it is crucial to teach your children about the dangers of hot cars and to remind yourself to check the back seat every time you enter or exit your vehicle.

A new bill aims to help keep children from dying in hot cars by requiring cars to be equipped with an alert system that can be activated when the engine is turned off. The Hot Cars Act, a bipartisan proposal by Rep. Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Tim Ryan, has previously been introduced as a standalone bill and was included in the Moving Forward Act before it came to a standstill.

The National Safety Council offers a free online course that educates people about the dangers of hot cars and how to prevent them. Upon completion of the course, you can print out a certificate to share with your family.