Look Before You Lock: Number of Kids Dying from Vehicular Heatstroke Rises in Recent Years

The number of American children passing away from being left in hot cars has been steadily rising over the last few years.

In 2016, 39 children were reported deceased from pediatric vehicular heatstroke. That number climbed to 42 in 2017 and unfortunately, it jumped up again last year.

2018 was the deadliest year on record in the last 20 years with a total of 52 children who reportedly died from being stuck in a vehicle

Officials at the National Safety Council (NSC) report that temperatures inside vehicles can reach life-threatening levels, even on mild or cloudy days and leaving windows slightly open does not help reduce the risk of fatality.

They add that there is no safe time to leave a child in a vehicle, even if you are just running a quick errand. On a 70 degree day, officials estimate that an enclosed vehicle can reach over 110 degrees in under an hour. On a 95 degree day, your vehicle can reach temperatures that high within 10 minutes.

According to statistics collected between 1998 and 2018, about 18.5 percent of children who die this way are knowingly left, 26 percent gain access to the vehicles themselves and more than 53 percent are forgotten by a caregiver.

The NSC advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and to avoid distractions to reduce the risk of unintentionally leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. They encourage adults to place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to require them to take one last look before walking away.

To help reduce the risk of children trapping themselves in a potentially perilous situation, keep your car doors locked so they cannot gain access and teach them that vehicles are not play areas.

The NSC notes that even one child is too many so officials there stress the importance of prevention.

The Council offers a free online course to educate the public about this danger and to emphasize how vital it is to look before you lock.