Children Dying in Hot Cars: Preventable Tragedies
By the end of May 2018, at least nine children in the U.S. died from being left unattended in a hot car. A nine-month old baby died after she was left for more than an hour in a pick-up truck by her parents when the temperature outside was 91°F. Her parents wrongly assumed that the other parent had taken their daughter out of the car and put her in her crib. By the time they realized their mistake, it was too late.
Unfortunately, this story is quite typical, as it is repeated an average of 37 times a year when babies or toddlers are found dead in hot cars. When it comes to statistics by state, Georgia comes in fifth, behind only Texas, Florida, California, and Arizona – with an average of 31 hot car deaths a year. Amazingly, every single one of these deaths could have been prevented.
It does not take long for a car, even with its windows cracked, to reach deadly temperatures. When outside temperatures are 83°F it only takes 15 minutes for the inside temperature to heat to 110°F. When the outside temperature is 100°F, the interior will be 172°F in 15 minutes.
Children’s little bodies heat up much faster than adult’s bodies. In just a short period of time, a child’s internal core temperature can reach the dangerous 104° F level. Heat stroke ensues which quickly can lead to death.
Some think it can never happen to them, but the facts and statistics referenced above indicate otherwise. Three main situations have been identified that lead to children dying in hot cars:
- Infants or toddlers are simply forgotten and left in their car seats;
- Infants or toddlers are intentionally left in their car seats while the person caring for them, parent, relative, babysitter, or nanny, does an errand;
- Toddlers may sneak into a car to play and fall asleep, or get trapped and are unable to get out.
Precautionary Steps to Take to Prevent Your Child from Dying in a Hot Car
If it has not happened to you, you may think you are immune. But, anyone with small children needs to be aware of how such tragic deaths can be prevented. Some tips are:
- Develop the habit of always looking in the backseat and checking the car seat whether or not your child is with you;
- Leave something you will need for the day next near the car seat so you will need to open the door to retrieve it. It may be your briefcase, your lunch, your cell phone, your purse, or anything you will need to have with you after dropping off your child at daycare – for example;
- Put a card in the car seat that you take out and put on the dashboard when you onboard the baby or toddler;
- When you get home from the grocery store or from doing an errand, get all of your children out of the car and into the house before taking in the groceries;
- Never, ever, leave your child in the car unattended even if you think you are running inside a store for just a few minutes; and
- Have an arrangement with your day care provider that one or both parents will be called if the child does not show up.
If you see a child in an unattended car, call 911. Minutes matter, so you may want to break the window to rescue the child. Captain David Jones with the Dooly County Sheriff’s Office says that you will be protected by the state’s Good Samaritan Laws.
If your child was a victim of such a tragic accident, you may want to hold the person responsible for the death or injuries your child suffered. Contact Georgia Trial Attorneys for a free consultation.