Learning Center

Children, Cars and Heat Stroke

preventing heat stroke image

Every year, especially during hot summer weather, a tragedy unfolds with disturbing frequency: Children die or are seriously injured from heat stroke after being left unattended in vehicles.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 532 children in the U.S. have died from heat stroke in vehicles since 1998. The vast majority of these deaths involved children age 3 and younger, and were often associated with a change in the driver’s routine.

Symptoms of heat stroke

In addition to heat stroke deaths, many children suffer permanent brain damage, blindness and loss of hearing as a result of being left unattended in a hot vehicle.

With all of this in mind, the NHTSA urges parents, caregivers and others to take the following precautions:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are open or the air conditioning is on.

  • Make a habit of looking in your vehicle, from front to back, before walking away.

  • If you are dropping off children at childcare, and normally your spouse or partner handles this activity, have them call you to confirm the drop-off went according to plan.

  • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.

  • Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle. For example, set a purse or briefcase in the back seat or place a note where you’ll see it before you leave the vehicle.

  • Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area, and keep keys out of their reach.

  • If a child is missing, check the vehicle first.

  • If you ever see a child left alone in a hot vehicle, immediately call 911 or a local emergency number.

Additional resources

For more information on how to prevent vehicle-related heat stroke, visit these sites:

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