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
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