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Heat and cars a deadly combination

Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year.

Everyone can be vulnerable to the heat, but some more so than others. According to a study by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, young children and infants, older adults, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to heat.

Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable as their bodies are less able to adapt to heat than adults. Older adults, particularly those with pre-existing diseases, take certain medications, live alone or have limited mobility who are exposed to extreme heat can experience multiple adverse effects.

Extreme heat events have also been associated with adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth and infant mortality, as well as congenital cataracts.

Hot cars:

It is never safe to leave a child, disabled person or pet locked in a car, even in the winter.

If you have a toddler in the household, lock the cars, even in your own driveway. Kids play in cars or wander outside and get into a car and die within 10 minutes. A reported 24 children died in hot cars in 2020. To see the recent statistics, visit

According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, nearly 900 children died of heatstroke since 1998 because they were left or became trapped in a hot car.

A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child is left in a hot vehicle, that child’s temperature rises quickly and they could die within minutes.

Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees. A child can die when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees.

Here are some tips on how to prevent these tragedies from happening:

  • Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended, even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and air conditioning is on.
  • Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away. Train yourself to park, look, lock, or always ask yourself, “Where’s baby?”
  • Ask your childcare provider to call if your child doesn’t show up for care as expected.
  • Place a personal item in the back seat as another reminder to look before you lock. Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat.
  • Store car keys out of a child’s reach and teach children that a vehicle is not a play area.

If you see a child in a hot car, get them out immediately and call 911.

Always lock your trunk and car doors year round so children cannot get into those unattended.

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