Preventing Child Heatstroke in Hot Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently issued a press release encouraging parents to take immediate and proactive steps to prevent child heatstroke in hot cars. Last year, 31 children died from heatstroke. This year, 11 children have already died of heatstroke from being left in hot vehicles. In combination with Safe Kids Worldwide, the NHTSA is urging parents and caregivers to take precautions to prevent leaving children in hot vehicles. In addition to educational awareness, the NHTSA is also working with manufacturers to develop effective technological innovations that could potentially prevent child heatstroke deaths.

U.S. Transportation Secretary on Needless Tragedies

These deaths and injuries are 100 percent preventable, and it’s important to understand that everybody needs to be aware and alert to the dangers of leaving a child unattended in a car. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was quick to point out that these heatstroke tragedies can happen to any parent, from any walk of life. In addition to prevention efforts, he also stresses that bystanders should call 911 if they see a child in distress. The Department of Transportation and the NHTSA offer a variety of tips for parents and caregivers.

DOT and NHTSA Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, whether the windows are rolled down or not.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle before you walk away, front and back seats.
  • Ask childcare providers to call if a child doesn’t show up when he or she is expected.
  • Do things that serve as a reminder that the child is in the vehicle, like place a stuffed animal in the driver’s view or place a purse or briefcase in the backseat.
  • Always lock your vehicle when not in use, and store keys out of reach of children.
  • Community members who see a child alone in a vehicle should call 911 immediately. A child in distress needs to be removed from the vehicle and cooled as quickly as possible.

Deadly Heatstroke in Children

Children (and pets) are especially susceptible heat injuries and heatstroke. Every parent and caregiver needs to know that a heatstroke can kill a child in a matter of minutes. For more information on preventing child heatstroke, parents and caregivers can learn more at safercar.gov.


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