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Child hot car deaths: Tips to not forget your little ones in the car this summer

Parents, here’s how to ensure you never leave your child inside a hot car this summer

By Moriah Ballard
According to the prevention website, more than 1,050 children have died since 1990 after they were left inside devastatingly hot vehicles across the United States. 

Killer heat: This is how quickly a car heats up, when it turns deadly

An average of 35 toddlers die in hot cars every year, according to an analysis of Kids and Car Safety data, and almost 90% of children who die are 3 or younger. Most were unknowingly left by a parent or caregiver.

Just recently, the nation’s first baby death from a hot car in 2024 was reported in South Carolina.

Armani Shoemaker, 3, died May 3 after slipping out of his family home and into an unlocked car around noon in Columbia, according to a Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s report.

“You think of what happened in South Carolina and your heart just breaks,” said Janette Fennell, the founder of Kids and Car Safety. “We know right now there are parents who love their babies and by the end of the summer they won’t be with them anymore.”

Since 1990, Texas had the most deaths with 156. Only Alaska has not recorded a death, according to the group’s data.

Last year in 2023, there were 29 children’s deaths reported from hot cars, with four being in the state of Texas. That’s a decrease from the previous year, 2022 when 36 children’s deaths were reported, six of which happened in the state of Texas.

Information provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that heatstroke can “begin when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees. A child can die when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees.”

SEE ALSO: Heat Exhaustion: Who’s at highest risk, symptoms to watch out for, and how to know when to get medical help

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided the following tips for parents/caregivers to ensure this never happens to them.

  1. Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended — even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running, and the air conditioning is on.
  2. Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away. Train yourself to Park, Look, Lock, or always ask yourself, “Where’s Baby?”
  3. Ask your childcare provider to call if your child doesn’t show up for care as expected.
  4. Place a personal item like a purse or briefcase in the back seat, as another reminder to look before you lock. Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger’s seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat.
  5. Store car keys out of a child’s reach and teach children that a vehicle is not a play area.

“In over half of hot car deaths, the person responsible for the child’s death unknowingly left them in the vehicle. In most situations, this happens to the most loving, caring, and protective parents. It has happened to a teacher, dentist, social worker, police officer, nurse, clergyman, soldier, and even a rocket scientist. It can happen to anyone…”

SEE ALSO: How drivers can prevent hot car deaths

When should you take action to rescue a child or pet trapped inside a hot car?

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