2014 US Heatstroke Deaths by Location: San Francisco State University

Someone who sees a child in an unattended vehicle should call 911.

In 2014, 18 children have died from heat-related deaths as of July 31, having been trapped inside motor vehicles. 

Circumstances: An examination of media reports about the 606 child vehicular heatstroke deaths for a thirteen year period (1998 through 2012) shows the following circumstances:

  • 51% - child "forgotten" by caregiver (312 Children)
  • 29% - child playing in unattended vehicle (177)
  • 18% - child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (111)
  • 1% - circumstances unknown (6)

Awareness: The Auto Alliance is raising awareness of heat stroke (or hyperthermia) to children and pets if they are left alone in a vehicle – even for a moment. Allowing children to have access to car keys, or an unlocked vehicle is just as dangerous – and a full 30 percent of these tragedies occur because a child gains access to an unlocked auto and then becomes trapped.

Prevention: All vehicle owners and operators can, immediately, do their part to eliminate these tragedies through four key steps:

  • Locking vehicles
  • Keeping keys away from children – just as a parent keeps medications and harmful cleaning supplies away from children
  • Putting a diaper bag in a vehicle's front seat to serve as a reminder of a child in the back seat
  • Putting a hand-held cellphone or PDA device in the back seat
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Never leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle – for even just a few moments. Cars heat up quickly: a small car exposed to the sun on a 95 degree day exceeds 122 degrees within just 15 minutes and can go up to 150 degrees within 40 minutes. "Cracking" the windows is not sufficient.

Resources/Links:

Auto Alliance:
Download Alliance Heatstroke Brochure
Link: http://www.itsthatserious.org/store/c1/Featured_Products.html 

SafeKids:
Download Safe Kids Heatstroke Safety Tips 
Link: http://www.safekids.org/take-action-prevent-heatstroke

NHTSA:
Download NHTSA Hyperthermia Fact Sheet 
Link: http://www.safercar.gov/parents/heatstroke.htm

San Francisco State University:
Link: http://www.ggweather.com/heat/