According to KidsAndCars.org, over 940 children have died in hot cars nationwide since 1990. Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car; and the end result can be injury or even death.
Scroll down for child stories, fact sheets, safety tips, charts, graphics, PSAs, studies, etc.
Child Vehicular Heatstroke Deaths by Year
(location-specific and detailed information available upon request)
|2020||1 (view list)|
|2019||53 (view list)|
|2018||54* (view list)|
|Average # of deaths per year: 39 (one every 9 days)|
|*Year with the most fatalities: 2018 (54 deaths)|
Fact Sheet & Safety Tips
“Look Before You Lock” parent education cards
Charts, Statistics, Graphics
Below are KidsAndCars.org charts and graphs which can be downloaded for free and are excellent education materials. We encourage you to share, print, copy, distribute, or enlarge them; but we ask that no changes be made. Please note, the PDF files are large and may take some time to open in your browser.
Airbag vs. Heatstroke Fatalities
Heatstroke Fatalities by State Map
Child Vehicular Heatstroke Fatalities by Year
Child Nontraffic Fatalities by Type
|Child Nontraffic Fatalities INSIDE vs. OUTSIDE the vehicle|
Pulitzer Prize winning article by Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post
Far too many children have been inadvertently left in vehicles or have gotten into a vehicle on their own. Vehicular heatstroke tragedies change the lives of parents, families, and communities forever. The stories at the links below are about children whose lives were lost, and near misses, after becoming trapped inside of a hot vehicle.
Social Media Posts
Hashtags: #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock
- An occupant detection system in cars could prevent hot car deaths. #PasstheHotCarsAct #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock
- Technology exists to prevent hot car deaths… what are we waiting for? #PasstheHotCarsAct
- 2018 was the deadliest year in history for child hot car deaths. #PasstheHotCarsAct #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock
- Cars can alert us of children in the back seat and save precious little lives. #PasstheHotCarsAct #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock
- See a child or animal alone in a car? Get involved! Call 911 immediately. #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock
- Be prepared to save a baby in a hot car with a resqme tool… get it today at /resqme-tool/ #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock
- Always check the back seat for baby! #lookbeforeyoulock #heatstrokekills
- Ask childcare to call you if your baby doesn’t show up as planned! #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock
- Always keep cars locked & keys out of reach of children. If a child is missing – check in all cars! #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock
Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and Videos
Heighten awareness about the dangers children face in and around motor vehicles with KidsAndCars.org’s Public Service Announcements. Please encourage TV stations, hospital, doctor offices, public health offices, parenting classes, etc., to share this life-saving information.
Below are studies specific to vehicular heatstroke injuries and deaths. There have been several studies published about vehicular heatstroke but there is still much to be learned.
- When a child dies of heatstroke after a parent or caretaker unknowingly leaves the child in a car: How does it happen and is it a crime? – 2019
- Evaluating the impact of solar radiation on pediatric heat balance within enclosed, hot vehicles – 5/23/2018
- New Study Released on Nontraffic Injuries and Fatalities in Young Children – 9/27/2017
- Children forgotten in hot cars: a mental models approach for improving public health messaging – 8/9/2017
- Functional Assessment of Unattended Child Reminder Systems (DOT HS 812 187) July 2015
- Evaluating infant core temperature response in a hot car using a heat balance model; Forensic Science Medicine and Pathology, October, 2014
- Threat of paediatric hyperthermia in an enclosed vehicle: a year-round study;
- Threat of paediatric hyperthermia in an enclosed vehicle: a year-round study, Injury Prevention, November, 2013
- Evaluating infant core temperature response in a hot car using a heat balance model, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (DOT HS 811 632), July 2012
- Hyperthermia deaths among children in parked vehicles: an analysis of 231 fatalities in the United States, 1999–2007 (2010)
- Crime and Parenthood: The Uneasy Case for Prosecuting Negligent Parents (2006)
- Quantifying the heat-related hazard for children in motor vehicles ,Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (2010)
- Not in Traffic Surveillance-2007 Highlights, January 2009, DOT HS 811 085
- Heat Stress From Enclosed Vehicles: Moderate Ambient Temperatures Cause Significant Temperature Rise in Enclosed Vehicles, McLaren, Null, Quinn, Pediatrics 2005; 116;109-112
- Heat-Related Mortality – Arizona, 1993-2002, and United States, 1979-2002
- Heat related deaths to young children in parked cars: an analysis of 171 fatalities in the United States, 1995–2002, Injury Prevention 2005; 11:33-37; doi:10.1136/ip.2003.004044
- Heat-Related Deaths — Los Angeles County, California, 1999-2000, and United States, 1979—1998, MMWR Weekly, July 27, 2001 / 50 (29); 623-626
- Environmental Hyperthermic Infant and Early Childhood Death: circumstances, pathologic changes, and manor of death. Henry F. Kraus MD, Julie M. Nadeau B.A., Richard I. Fukumoto M.D., Brian D. Blackbourne, M.D., and Roger W. Byard, M.D.
- Injuries and Deaths Among Children Left Unattended in or Around Motor Vehicles — United States, July 2000–June 2001
- Heat-Related Illnesses and Deaths – Missouri, 1998, and United States, 1979-1996, MMWR, 1999; 48: 469-473, DC Rackers
- Heat-related mortality — United States. MMWR, June 1998; 47:473-6, CDC.
- Heat waves and hot environments. Noji EK, ed. The public health consequences of disaster. New York, New York, Oxford Univerity Press, 1997: 245-69, Kilbourne EM.
- Heat Related Deaths-Dallas, Wichita and Cooke Counties, Texas, and the United States, 1996, MMWR, June 13, 1997/46(23); 528-531
KidsAndCars.org believes the solution to these preventable tragedies is a combination of education and technology. KidsAndCars.org would like all vehicles to come equipped with a system that would alert a driver if a child has been left in the vehicle. The Hot Cars Act has been recently introduced and would require technology in call vehicles to prevent heatstroke tragedies – learn more here.
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