Tips for Keeping Children Safe from Hot Car Deaths


Summer is here, and we are now in the throes of a heatwave. The summer poses a very real danger for children being left in locked cars with the windows up. It is a recipe for tragedy. Sadly, there has been an increase in events in which young children are unintentionally left in cars or become trapped in cars on their own. There were 52 hot car deaths in 2019, and there were 53 such deaths in 2018. However, as set forth below, steps can be taken to prevent these tragedies.

Over 50% of hot car deaths occur when a parent or caregiver forgets that a child was in the car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a trend has developed over the years, which indicates the following:

  • -Nearly one-half of the time, a forgotten child was intended to be dropped off at daycare or preschool by the caregiver.
  • -More deaths happen near the end of the workweek, on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • -Almost 75% of forgotten children who die are under 2 years of age.

The NHTSA recommends that parents and caregivers heed to the following safety practices every time a child is in the car with them: 

  • -Look inside your car before locking the doors and remember to park, look, and then lock and ask yourself, “Where’s Baby?”
  • -Place an important item like a briefcase, pocketbook, or mobile phone next to the child’s seat, which will give you a chance to look in the back of the car.
  • -Place a stuffed animal in your child’s seat when it is empty and place it up front when your child is in the car as a reminder.
  • -Have your child care provider call you if your child does not arrive at his or her scheduled time.

The NHTSA recommends the following procedures to keep children out of unattended vehicles:

Always lock your car doors and trunk since the inside of a car can reach 100 degrees, even when the outside temperature is just below 60 degrees.

  • -Do not let children play in an unattended vehicle.
  • -Make sure children do not have access to car keys.
  • -Whenever a child is missing, immediately check all vehicles, including trunks.

The NHTSA further advises that for the sake of child safety, a child should never be left alone in a car even if the windows are down.

The NHTSA also offers advice as to what you should do if you see a child alone in a car by first checking to see if the child is okay and, if not, call 911 right away. According to the NHTSA, if the child seems to be okay, then you should try to find the parents. If, however, the child is not responsive or seems to be in distress, you should attempt to get into the care to assist the child, which could mean you have to break a window.

The attorneys at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of children and families and the motoring public traveling on the roads and highways in Berks County and Schuylkill County and serve auto, truck, and motorcycle accident victims and their families in Reading, PA, Pottsville, PA, and throughout Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia. The lawyers at the firm handle injury claims, including claims for serious injuries and death caused by the negligence of others. The firm also handles medical malpractice claims, workers’ compensation cases, and nursing home neglect cases.    

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire

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