Dangers of hot cars: 52 kids died in overheated vehicles nationwide in 2018, 800 since 1998


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — 800 children have died while trapped in hot cars over the past 20 years.

That is like wiping out an entire Virginia Beach public elementary school, plus half of another.

Last year 52 children died while trapped in hot cars, and four were in Virginia.

That is the most deaths since tracking began in 1998.

“This has happened to doctors, lawyers, teachers, where there’s a change in routine, or they are exhausted from their daily life,” explained CHKD Child Passenger Safety Coordinator, Eileen Gerling.

She said our distracted lives make us vulnerable. “They think, ‘I would never leave my child. I would never forget,’ but how many times have you driven home from work and meant to stop to pick up the dry cleaning and just drove straight home?”

Cars heat up quickly. On an 80 degree day your car can turn into a 100 degree oven in 10 minutes, and since kids’ bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults, heat stroke sets in fast.

“Most of the children who have died have been under two, and most likely they are quiet and sleeping in the car,” Gerling said.

Automakers are stepping up to help. There are rear seat reminders in many newer model GMs and some Nissan and Hyundai models.

You can also get smart car seats or use apps that can remind you to check the back seat.

There are also low tech steps you can take, such as leaving a cell phone, purse or briefcase next to the car seat.

Have your daycare call if you don’t show up on time, and if someone else is driving your child, have them text to let you know when they’ve arrived.

Simple steps, that in our busy distracted lives can save the life of your most precious cargo.

Additional resources:

Kids and Cars

Healthy Children

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