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Child Deaths in Hot Cars on the Rise

Leaving a child alone in a car is always risky, but in the record heat this summer, it can be deadly. It can take just 20 minutes for the inside of a closed car to heat up to a dangerous 109 degrees on an 80-degree day.

Across the United States, 49 children—from 2 months to 6 years old—died last year after being left in hot cars, a new record. This also brings the death toll to 495 children since 1998.

Here are a few steps parents can take to prevent a tragic accident.

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open. An outside temperature of 101 degrees can easily result in an interior temperature of 140 degrees.
  • If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.
  • Place your cell phone, purse, or other important items needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in the backseat. This triggers adults to see children when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings.
  • Set your cell phone or Outlook reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at day care. Have a plan that if your child is late for daycare, you will be called within a few minutes.
  • Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first, and then your car or any other vehicles at your house, including car trunks.
  • Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.