Parents and Caregivers
Leaving Kids Alone in Hot Cars — Know the Risks
Even great parents can forget a child in the back seat, but caregivers who are unaccustomed to transporting children are especially prone to forgetting.
Think about the last time your routine was interrupted. Maybe you forgot something, or were afraid you might forget something. Or maybe you decided to leave your child alone in the car, thinking “I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” In either case, it’s important to know the risks and consequences associated with leaving kids in cars — especially hot cars.
- In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
- With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
- A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
- Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside!
- A child dies when his/her temperature reaches 107.
- The heat-related death of a child
- Misdemeanor with fines as high as $500 — and even imprisonment — in some states
- Felony, depending on the state, if bodily harm results from leaving kids alone in a hot car
- Note: The age of children who can be left unattended in a vehicle varies from state to state, as does the duration of time a child can be left alone in a car.
Prevention Tips to Avoid a Tragic Heatstroke
- Never leave a child alone in a car.
- Don’t let your kids play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
- Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
- Keep a large teddy bear or other stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s empty. Move the teddy bear to the front seat when you place the child in the seat as a visual reminder.
- If you are dropping your children off at childcare, but normally your spouse or partner drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure they were not left in the car.
- Become vigilant about looking in the vehicle before locking the door. Always look front and back before walking away — always!
Safety Advocates and Professionals
Join NHTSA in tackling this important safety issue. Visit their Get Involved page for downloadable materials and assets for parents, caregivers, safety advocates and all those who want to help protect children from needlessly dying in hot cars.