Children and Youth

Prevent heat-related deaths of children in vehicles

Local agencies hope to raise awareness of dangerous issue

In the wake of recent hot weather, the following information was shared by the Hollister Police Department: Safe Kids California San Benito Partners and the San Benito County EMS Agency are asking for help preventing heat-related deaths of children who are in, or have access to, an unattended vehicle. 

Babies and young kids can sometimes sleep so peacefully that we forget they are even there. It can also be tempting to leave a baby alone in a car while we quickly run into the store. The problem is that leaving a child alone in a car can lead to serious injury or death from heatstroke. Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. These tragedies are completely preventable. 

Heatstroke facts

Since 1998, at least 600 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle. 

  • 52 percent – child “forgotten" by caregiver 
  • 29 percent – child playing in unattended vehicle 
  •  18 percent – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult 

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. There have already been 18 deaths of children in the country this year. The most recent death was on Thursday. 

Prevention 

Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in to the car on their own. Four of the children who died this year did so when they gained access to an unattended vehicle. 

Create reminders by putting 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. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine. 

Take action 

If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life. 

For more information, visit www.SanBenitoCo.org/EMS.

BenitoLink Staff