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Prevent Hot Car Tragedies

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Peter Grosso
Published Date: Monday, July 29, 2019

By Dr. Peter Grosso, Nansemond Pediatrics

Leaving a child in a car on a hot day, even for a short time, can have tragic consequences. As of July 15, 19 infants and young children have died this year from heatstroke after being left inside a vehicle unattended, according to NoHeatStroke.org. Last year, the total number of children who died as a result of vehicular heatstroke reached an all-time high of 54.

Sadly, most of these children were forgotten in the back seat by caregivers who were distracted, exhausted, or out of their normal routine.

Parents may want to consider leaving something in the back seat, such as a purse or phone, as a reminder to check for their children when getting out of the car. A sleeping baby or toddler won’t make any noise to remind the driver they are in the back seat. A parent should get in the habit of always checking the back seat before leaving the car.

Another good safety tip is to always lock your car when it is unoccupied. This prevents children from getting inside on their own and possibly becoming trapped.

Losing a child to vehicular heatstroke has happened to families of every socioeconomic background and geographical area, and can occur on even mild weather days with temperatures in the 60s. Cars heat up quickly on a sunny day, even in mild temperatures, and a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s.

Additional tips to prevent hot car tragedies:

  • Never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Make sure to lock unoccupied cars so that children do not get in on their own and become trapped. Keep keys and remote openers out of reach of children. Use drive-through services for errands if needed.
  • Teach small children how to honk the horn if they become trapped in a car.
  • Create reminders and look before you lock.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately. If they seem sick or hot, get them out of the vehicle as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you have a policy with your childcare provider to call you immediately if your child does not show up as planned.


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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.