More than three dozen children die of hyperthermia in cars annually in the United States, and since 1998 more than 500 children have died in hot cars. Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees, and car interiors can reach well over 110 degrees even when the outside temperature is in the 60s.
Here are some tips from safety advocates on avoiding accidental deaths in hot cars:
- Never leave children alone in a vehicle to run even a short errand. Use drive-thru windows at banks, dry cleaners and restaurants whenever possible. Use a debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.
- Put a purse, cellphone or other item you will need in the back seat of your car. This will ensure that you check the back seat before leaving the vehicle.
- Make a habit of opening the back door of your car and checking the back seat whenever you exit it.
- Keep a stuffed animal or toy in your child's unoccupied car seat. Put that item in the front seat when you place the child in the seat as a reminder that the child is in the back of the car.
- If a child is missing, immediately check the car, including the trunk.
- If you see a child alone in any vehicle for more than a few minutes, get the child out and call 911.
Sources: Connecticut State Police, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, kidsandcars.org