Prevent It

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants everyone to know something important about the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related fatalities for children 14 and younger: it’s completely preventable.

In 2021, pediatric vehicular heatstroke claimed the lives of 23 children in the United States. These were kids who either gained unsupervised access to a vehicle or were forgotten or knowingly left by a caregiver. In 2020, there were 25 child victims of vehicular heatstroke, down from 53 per year in 2018 and 2019. This decrease in the number of children dying in hot

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cars is possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in families’ routines. While a downward trend is encouraging, we can’t accept any child heatstroke deaths per year.

Here are the key facts:

  • In 2021, 23 children died due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke. Their ages ranged from 5 months to 11 years old, but more than half were under the age of 2.
  • In 2020, 25 children died of pediatric vehicular heatstroke.
  • From 1998 to the present, a total of 906 children have died due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke. Of the 906 children who died:
    • 52.7% were forgotten by a caregiver;
    • 25.8% gained access on their own;
    • 20.1% were knowingly left by a caregiver; and
    • 1.4% died under unknown circumstances. 

Remember these three things:

  • NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
  • Make it a habit to look in the back seat EVERY time you exit the car.
  • ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach. 




Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration