June 15, 2022

Don’t leave them even for a minute — keep children from dying in a hot car

Every year dozens of children die of heatstroke after being left, often accidentally, in a hot car

Summer is always hot, but the weather forecast for middle to late June is very hot.

With temperatures rising in Middle Tennessee, safety experts at Monroe Carell Jr. Children¹s Hospital at Vanderbilt want to stress the danger of leaving children unattended in vehicles.

In 2021, there were a total of 23 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths and already in 2022 there have been three deaths, including one in Memphis.

Physicians at Children’s Hospital say a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, and when the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, the internal organs begin to shut down. Children are placed at extreme risk for severe hyperthermia and heat stroke in just minutes.

“Many people are surprised to learn how hot the inside of a car can actually get. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside of a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes and keep getting hotter with each passing minute,” said Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager Purnima Unni.

Unni offers the following tips to avoid vehicle-related heat injuries or death:

  • Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in the car, even for a minute
  • Use cell phone or computer reminders to make sure your child has been dropped off at the desired location.
  • Place something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination.
  • Ask your child care provider to call if your child doesn’t show up for care as expected.
  • If your child is missing, check vehicles and trunks first.
  • Teach your children never to play in vehicles in order to prevent them from accidentally locking themselves inside one.
  • Be sure to lock all doors and windows to vehicles on your property.

Community members who see a child left alone in a hot vehicle should immediately take action and call 911.

To learn more safety tips visit https://www.vumc.org/injuryprevention/safety-topics