Preventing Hot Car Deaths

Every year, young children die because they are left in a hot car.

Since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began keeping records of these deaths in 1998, 886 deaths have been recorded (including 24 children who lost their lives in hot cars in 2020 and so far 4 who have died this year). The agency says the real number may actually be even higher.

As temperatures continue to rise this summer, SMH First Physicians Group Pediatrician Lindsey Finnegan, MD, shares tips to help parents and those who work with children prevent more accidental hot car deaths.

Some Important Messages for Parents & Caregivers 

  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a quick errand.
  • Many parents don’t realize that a child’s body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult’s.
  • The temperature inside a car can rise about 20 degrees in 10 minutes – cracking a window doesn’t help.
  • When a child’s temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. When a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.
  • A-C-T quickly to avoid heatstroke-related injury and death:

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Always lock your doors and trunks – even in your driveway. And keep your keys and key fobs out of the reach of kids.
C: Create reminders. Place something you’ll need at your next stop – like a briefcase or cell phone – next to the child safety seat.  It may seem simple, but can be a helpful reminder on a chaotic day.
T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, take action. Call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations.

Lindsey Finnegan, MD, is a board-certified internist and pediatrician serving patients and families at FPG Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Blackburn Point in Osprey. For appointments and more information, please call (941) 261-4700.

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