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Prevent Heatstroke Deaths in Hot Cars by Guest Blogger, Kids in Danger

Although fall is coming, we are still having hot days in the Chicago area. Keep in mind, that heatstroke deaths can happen on 75 degree, sunny days, too.

Young children left alone in a hot vehicle can die of heat stroke very quickly, and on average 38 children lose their lives each year – with more than half under the age of two. In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees. Even on mild or cloudy days, temperatures inside vehicles can reach life-threatening levels and leaving windows slightly open isn’t enough. When ambient temperatures reach 104 degrees, children’s major organs begin to fail and if the temperature reaches 107 degrees, children can die.

About half of hot car deaths involve a parent or caregiver forgetting the child was in the vehicle, or in some cases, children can accidentally lock themselves in without a caregiver knowing. A long term solution is to have rear seat sensors installed in all new cars, but for now, here are ways to prevent these tragedies:

  • Be alert when there is a change in your routine, like when someone else is driving your child or you take a different route to work or childcare. Having a change from the usual routine increases the risk of forgetting a child in the back seat.

  • Put your cell phone, bag, or purse in the back seat, so you check the back seat when you arrive at your destination.

  • Ask that your child care facility call you if your child doesn’t arrive at school without notice from you.

  • Store car keys out of a child’s reach.

  • Keep your car locked when parked.

  • Keep rear fold-down seats closed to prevent a child from crawling into the trunk from inside the car.

  • Call 911 immediately if there is a child trapped in a car.

For more tips and information, visit the AAP or NHTSA’s Hot Cars Campaign.

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