Baby sits in gray car seat

It’s that time of the year when the forecast is predicting hot and humid weather. As periods of high temperatures continue, individuals should heed weather warnings to avoid becoming a victim of hyperthermia, a heat-related illness. Hyperthermia occurs when the body is exposed to excessive heat and produces or absorbs more heat than it can release causing the body’s temperature to climb.

Hyperthermia can affect anyone, yet children and the elderly are most vulnerable. On average, 38 children, in the U.S., die annually from hyperthermia after being left unattended in motor vehicles. According to the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science (, there have been a total of 811 Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) deaths since 1998. Last year, there were a total of 52 PVH deaths, an increase from the previous year; and so far this year, there have been 16 children that have died in hot cars due to hyperthermia.

Although the month of July holds the record for being the deadliest month for children trapped in cars, any month with high temperatures is deadly to children left in cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warns that on a 60 degree F day (spring weather), the temperature inside a vehicle can reach a dangerous 110o F within several hours.

The onset for heatstroke in children is when the internal body temperature reaches about 104 degree F. The serious risk of death in children occurs when the internal body temperature reaches 107 degree F.

Unfortunately, the number of child hot car fatalities will continue to rise, even though most parents believe it could never happen to them. Acting System Chief Tim Keen, of the Prince William County Fire & Rescue System, in conjunction with safety advocates Kids and Cars and Safe Kids USA, remind parents and caregivers to be vigilant and practice safe measures in the prevention of injuries and deaths caused by vehicular hyperthermia.

Help us help you prevent kids in hot cars by following these simple safety tips:

• NEVER leave children unattended in a car – NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE

• ALWAYS check the back seat of the vehicle before exiting (Beat the Heat,
Check the Backseat

• Keep a teddy bear in the passenger seat directly next to you.
o This is a reminder to look for your little one when it’s time to exit the car.

• Always lock your car and keep all keys out of the reach of your kids.
o To avoid the risk of locking themselves in the car.

• Slow down.
o Teach yourself to stop, take a minute and check your car when it’s hot
and you’re responsible for children.

• This micro-minute can make a huge difference in car-seat rituals.

• Pay attention to your sleeping habits.
o Those who have children under the age of 1 are at the highest risk due
to juggling many responsibilities on little sleep.
o When you are fatigued you are more likely to be forgetful.

• Place something valuable in the back seat.
o Consider items you never leave home without such as your wallet, purse, cell phone or items you absolutely must have for work such as your
briefcase or laptop/tablet to keep in the backseat with your child as a

• Have a routine in place for morning drop-offs.
o Have the daycare worker call if the child has not been dropped off as
o Take a photo of your child at the daycare drop-off and send to the
other parent. If by a designated time, the photo is not received, the other parent would be alerted that the child has not been dropped off.

• Explore new vehicle and car-seat options – upgrade your gear or your wheels.
o SensorSafe Technology (phone app) – an alarm sounds if the seat is
unbuckled while you’re driving of if a child remains after you’ve parked.
o Rear Seat Reminder – alerts drivers that there may be something in the rear seat.

• Set a reminder on your phone.

REMEMBER: Children and pets should NEVER be left in a car unattended for even a short period of time!

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