Hot Cars and Car Safety 

When temperatures are warm outdoors, they will be even hotter inside a closed car. This is true even on a relatively cool summer day. Don't take chances. Never leave children (or animals) unattended in parked vehicles. Temperatures can soar inside a vehicle and those in the car can quickly suffer from heat illness or face the life-threatening problems of heatstroke.

Hot car danger

image from a video of a Reggie McKinnon as he shares the account of the heatstroke death of his daughter in 2010
Click to watch a SafeKids video as Reggie McKinnon shares the story of his daughter Payton lost to heatstroke March 8, 2010. He has since worked to educate parents about the risks and preventative steps.


Safe Kids Northeast Florida is pushing
an ACT plan for parents to prevent a tragedy

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths in children that occurs when the body isn't able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Young children are particularly at risk because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult's.

Parents remember: ACT

A
Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.

C
Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

T
Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Click here for an ACT postcard...

Somber numbers reflect why a child left alone in a hot car is a serious issue

The issues

  • When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.
  • A car can heat up 19 degrees in 10 minutes. And cracking a window doesn’t help.
  • Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death.
Key statistics
  • Since 1998, more than 636 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle.
  • 53% - child “forgotten" by caregiver
  • 29% - child playing in unattended vehicle
  • 17% - child intentionally left in vehicle by adult
  • In 2013, 44 children died from heatstroke. In 2014, 30 children died, the second lowest total of heatstroke deaths since 1998.
  • Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states.
  • There are a staggering number of near misses – children who were rescued before a fatality. In northeast Florida and southeaster Georgia there were several "near misses" last year, including multiple accounts of children left inside hot cars for times well exceeding 15 minutes, which can result in criminal charges. Palm Beach County reported more than 500 near misses in one year alone.

Getting Your Preteen Passengers Protected

For parents, keeping their preteen children buckled up takes on its own challenges. However, it is as important as with younger children. The rules are similar -- the backseat is the best placement, and they should have restraints at the proper position. Here are some helpful guides to:

  • Does Your Preteen's Seat Belt Fit Right?
  • Five Ways to Get Your Preteen Buckled Up
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