Hot Car Safety: 5 Startling Statistics

Hot car safety young child in back seat of car

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Hot car safety is a big concern in Texas. Although a hot car death can occur anywhere, Texas has the highest number of Pediatric Vehicular Heatstrokes in the US. Every year, fatalities occur when children are left in cars either intentionally or by accident. But with awareness and education, child hot car deaths are entirely avoidable. 

What to Know about Hot Car Safety

What Is Hot Car Death?

Hot car death is also known as Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH.) Hot car death is the unintentional death a child under 18 as they succumb to fatal temperatures in an enclosed vehicle. As Texas residents are well aware, dark automobile interiors absorb and hold heat. A car’s interior temperature can rise rapidly, jumping double-digits in a matter of minutes.

Hot car death warning signs include:

  • Core body temperature of 104 F+
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Racing heart rate
  • Flushed skin
  • Delirium or confusion
  • Agitation and irritability

If you detect any of these sings after your child was left in the car, seek emergency medical care immediately.

Causes

According to NoHeatStroke.org, 891 children have died from PVH since 1998. The one thing all incidents have in common is that they were avoidable. Hot car safety means always checking for your children before exiting the car. When at home, it’s important to keep your car locked at all times with your keys in a safe place, away from kids. If your child is old enough, consider talking to them about hot car safety.

There are three primary causes of PVH:

  • Forgotten in the car by caregiver
  • Gained car access on their own
  • Knowingly left in the car by caregiver

On a US map of PVH deaths by state, Texas is number one for fatalities. There were 132 PVH deaths in Texas between 1998 and 2020. Sadly, all 132 deaths were easily preventable. More than half of hot car deaths in Texas occurred because a caregiver forgot a child in the car.

How Hot Do Cars Get?

A car’s interior temperature can rise quickly and dramatically. If the temperature is relatively mild–say mid-70s–it only takes around 25 minutes in the sun for the car’s interior to exceed 100 degrees. At a temperature of 104 F, a child reaches the heatstroke threshold. If the body reaches 107 F, death occurs.

One common misconception is that a light-colored car is safer than a dark-colored car. But the difference in interior temperatures is minimal. Regardless of your car’s color, the internal temperature can rise as much as twenty degrees in just ten minutes. That means a reasonable 80 F can quickly become a deadly 100 F before you know it.

Hot Car Safety Statistics

Hot car deaths declined in 2021, likely because more people were staying at home. But fatalities reached record-highs in both 2018 and 2019. More than half of incidents involve very young children left in the back seats of cars. The majority of children who perish in hot cars were left behind intentionally by their caregiver.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • 7 children have died so far in 2021
  • 53 children died in 2018 and in 2019
  • 53% of incidents involved forgetting a child in the car
  • 75% of forgotten children were under two years old
  • Thursdays and Fridays have the highest fatality rates

While “forgotten baby syndrome” might sound outrageous to some, Consumer Reports declares that anyone can forget their child in a car. Stress and anxiety can cause momentary lapses in memory, and when it comes to hot car safety, every minute counts.

Hot Car Safety Factors

Age

Hot car death can happen to children of any age. Most fatalities involve children up to 14, with over half being younger than two. Although a young child is usually confined to a car seat, an older child may simply fall asleep in a hot car and never wake up. If you leave a child in the car intentionally, it is not safe to assume your child will exit the vehicle if they become too hot.

Temperature

The higher the outside temperature, the quicker the temperature rises in your car. The average high temperatures in Texas are 86 F – 98 F, a dangerous range for any child stuck in an enclosed automobile. An Inside Car Temperature Calculator reveals that an outside temperature of 86 F can cause an internal car temperature of 120 F in just a half-hour.

Hot Car Safety Tips

Never Leave a Child Alone

While it might be tempting to leave a child alone “for a few minutes,” the temperatures inside a car can rise shockingly fast. It’s easy to let time get away from you and you can’t possibly anticipate every potential delay. Even if the weather seems mild, it’s critical to remember the drastic different between the outside world and the interior of a parked car.

Always Check Your Car

Forgotten Baby Syndrome can happen to anyone. Even if you think you’re immune to such a thing, hot car safety tells us it’s better to be safe than sorry. Some parents place their wallet, purse, or briefcase in the back seat next to their child. Because the item in the back seat is essential to their errand or task, there is no possibility of overlooking a sleeping child.

Hide Your Car Keys

Cars can represent freedom, maturity, and adventure. So it’s no surprise that some kids enjoy playing in cars. One of the main causes of hot car death is children gaining access to a car on their own without supervision. A young child can easily get locked in a parked car. Rapidly rising temperatures can lead to confusion and frustration, further discouraging their efforts to escape. While it’s easy to toss your keys as soon as you get in the door, hiding them will ensure optimal safety.

Hot Car Safety: What to Do

If you see a child alone in a car and believe they are in danger, there are a few things you can do to help. First, you can attempt to determine if the child is awake and responsive. Second, you can try and contact the parents through a security guard or overhead PA system. If you see a child in distress, call 911 right away.

One of the best ways to practice hot car safety is to educate yourself and spread awareness. Many people simply don’t know the facts and consequences of hot car death. Place reminders around the home so the adults in your household remember to check the car, hide the car keys, and make hot car safety a top priority for your family.

Thompson Law Will Guide You Through Your Personal Injury Case

Our attorneys at Thompson Law can help get you the compensation you deserve. If your child was injured by someone else’s negligence, give us a call today. You do not have to face this challenge alone, and our attorneys will assist you every step of the way. Call us at (844) 308-8180 today for a free consultation.

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