You may be surprised to learn how many children die as a result of being forgotten inside a car during hot summer months. What you may be even more surprised to learn is that hot car deaths are recorded for every single month in the US, except for January over the period of record keeping 1998-2015.
Since 1998, there have been 636 heatstroke deaths of children by being left in a vehicle. Learn the key facts so you do not add to these terrible statistics.
Cold Hard Facts
Most parents and caregivers believe this horrible accident would never happen to them and their families, unfortunately the statistics kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) prove it’s simply not true. In fact heatstroke in vehicles is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14 in all non-crash related fatalities at a whopping 61%. Besides accidents, it is the single biggest killer of kids involved with motor vehicles.
Hard numbers over the past few years:
- 37 average child heatstroke deaths per year since 1998
- 44 child heatstroke deaths in 2013
- 31 child heatstroke deaths in 2014
- 8 child heatstroke deaths already in 2015-06
- 636 heatstroke deaths since records started being kept in 1998.
It’s time to realize the statistics do not lie and for parents and caregivers to start a standard routine that will save lives.
High Death States
The leading states for hot car deaths are Texas, Arkansas and Nevada. Texas holds the unfortunate record for the most child fatalities of any US state since 1998 with 95 total children dying from heatstroke by being left in an unattended vehicle.
However, per capita deaths are led by Nevada and Arkansas. Although hot-climate states are in fact more at risk of these types of deaths there are no states in the union that are not at risk. A car can heat up 20 degrees in a matter of 10 minutes. Heatstroke has occurred in fact in a car in temperatures as low as 57 degrees outside temperature. Fatalities have occurred in 80 degree weather. A car in 60 degree weather can in fact heat up to over 110F. Opening a window a crack does very little.
Only the month of January has not recorded a heatstroke death and the summer months do account for 68% of all fatalities. However 20% of all deaths have occurred in the months of May and September proving that even shoulder months are dangerous.
One of the main reasons children are more risk than adults is the simple fact that their bodies temperatures can increase up to 5 times faster than adults. With a car heating up to fatal temperatures within 10 minutes in 80 degrees, a simple trip into the grocery store can be devastating and quick.
According to information gained by the NHTSA the reasons for the deaths of children in heatstroke cases are laid out as follows:
- 53% of all cases were a result of the parents or child care providers forgetting the child was in the car
- 29% were a result of a child playing in a vehicle without the oversight of an adult
- 17% were purposely left in an unattended vehicle
- 1% of the cases the reason is unknown.
The ages of these children span from just 5 days old to 14 years old. Unfortunately, 86% of all child heatstroke deaths are children 3 or younger. 9% are between the ages of 4 and 5 and between the ages 6-14 only represent 5%. Young children are most at risk.
Preventing a Death
Preventing these deaths should be a number one priority for parents and caregivers. With easy steps and tips you can make sure you never leave a vulnerable child unattended unintentionally again. There are a number of ways you can make this possible.
Try these simple options to help prevent an “unnecessary death”
- Leave an item of importance on the seat next to the child, a briefcase, cell phone or something needed when you get to your destination. Leaving your left shoe is a sure way to ensure you check the back seat when you leave.
- Purchase a ‘smart car seat’. These technologically driven car seats alert you by text alert if the seat gets too hot and the contacts for the seat belts are done up. Although not 100% reliable it is another tool to use.
- Make it a habit to check the front and back seats every time you enter or exit a vehicle.
- Make a reminder on your cell phone to go off at the expected time of drop off, alerting you that you may have forgotten.
- Arrange a call from your child care provider if your child is not dropped off as scheduled.
- If you ever see a child unattended in a car take action to ensure they are retrieved and call 911.