ensuring success in children age 0-5 in hardin and marshall county, iowa

Early childhood blog

Hot Car Deaths Are Preventable
Building Blocks (Column Title)
Carrie Kube

Summer is already here as you read this July newsletter. Now that the weather is getting hotter it is important to learn about ways to prevent hot car deaths. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) since 1998, 912 children have died from being left in a hot car. These deaths could have been prevented.

NHTSA reports that “A child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's. When a child is left in a hot vehicle, that child's temperature can rise quickly and they could die within minutes.” Transporting children in a vehicle to and from child care is provided mainly by parents. Some early childhood professionals also provide transportation not only to their program but also for field trips. 

Hot Car Death Facts * Source: NHTSA website

  • About 46% of the time when a child was forgotten, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at a daycare or preschool.
  • Thursdays and Fridays (the end of the workweek) have had the highest deaths.
  • More than half of the deaths (54%) are children under 2 years old.
  • The temperature inside a car can reach over 115 degrees when the outside temperature is just 70 degrees. 

Awareness Is Prevention

  • One way is good communication between caregiver and parent as it can help reduce the likelihood of a child being left in a car unattended.
  • Consider a practice if a scheduled child is more than 10 minutes late for arrival and the parent or guardian does not call, the program could contact the parent or guardian to make sure the child is not attending and hasn’t been accidentally left in a car at the parents’ or guardians’ work.
  • Another measure is a checklist that the early childhood driver follows by physically/visually checking all areas of the vehicle to account for all children that are being transported. These measures along with other measures implemented could help to save the life of a young child. 
  • “Check for Baby” Parents and caregivers, get in the habit of always looking inside your car before locking the doors. Remember Park. Look. Lock.
  • Ask yourself, "Where's the baby?"
  • Be weather aware. Young children don’t sweat as easily as adults. Playing outside in the hot weather can be dangerous as well. A great resource to use to see if it is a safe temperature to play outside is the HCCI Child Care Weather Watch chart This handy chart for outdoor weather safety can be found on the HCCI printed products page. https://idph.iowa.gov/hcci/products

Parents, caregivers, and child care providers can all help prevent these deaths. For more information on preventing hot car deaths visit: https://www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/heatstroke. If you witness a child in a hot car and feel they may be in danger, please call 9-1-1 immediately for officer assistance.

Carrie Kube
Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Director

Disclosure: Carrie Kube is a Director for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board.  All thoughts and opinions expressed are that of the author and not the Board and/or its community partners.

Source: Heidi Hotvedt, IDPH HCCI Coordinator