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Close up of hands on a car steering wheel

Kids and Hot Cars: Prevent Heatstroke, Deaths

By Dr. Peter Grosso, Nansemond Pediatrics

Leaving a child alone in a car, even for a short time, can have tragic consequences. In 2021, 23 children died of vehicular heatstroke, according to

Sadly, most of these children were forgotten in the back seat by their caregiver, but in other cases children gained access to the vehicle themselves.

Help prevent hot car tragedies with these tips:

  • A sleeping baby or toddler won’t make any noise to remind the driver they are in the back seat. Get in the habit of always checking the back seat before leaving the car.
  • Leave something in the back seat, such as your purse or phone, so you have to access that area before getting out of the car.
  • Always lock unoccupied cars to prevent children from getting inside and possibly becoming trapped. Keep keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
  • Never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Use drive-up services for errands when possible.
  • Teach small children how to honk the horn if they become trapped in a car.
  • Set a policy with your childcare provider to call you immediately if your child does not show up as planned.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately. If they seem sick or hot, get them out as soon as possible.

Losing a child to vehicular heatstroke can happen to anyone. And, when the sun is shining, even if it’s a cool day, the inside of a car can heat up quickly.

Don't forget to look before you lock. Your child's life may depend on it.

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About CHKD Medical Group

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.