Health, News

Hot car temps pose seasonal risk to kids, loved ones and pets

by Kate Evans

In this season’s persistent high temperatures, people are urged to take extra steps to prevent a hot car death tragedy involving their children, loved ones and pets.

Nationwide, seven children have died so far this year from being trapped or left inside a hot vehicle, according to the website

In late May a baby in Morgantown was found dead after unknowingly being left in a hot car. It is unknown how long the baby had been inside.

The first hot car death of the season was in South Carolina involving a three-year-old girl that gained access to a hot car.

A record number of 53 kids died in hot car deaths in 2018 and 2019, according to An average of 37 children die every year from heat stroke after being left in a hot vehicle.

Children have died from vehicular heat stroke from being left inside hot cars and forgotten or after gaining access to hot cars. All of these deaths could have been prevented, safety officials said.

Life-threatening temperatures

Hot-car deaths can occur year-round even in milder weather or on cloudy days, according to the National Safety Council. Temperatures reach life-threatening levels inside vehicles, even with the car windows left slightly open. They can even reach 50 degrees higher than the outdoor temperature.

Children should never be left unattended in a car for even a minute or be able to get inside a vehicle.

Most hot car deaths occur because a child is mistakenly left inside a vehicle when they were supposed to be dropped off at daycare or preschool. Ask your childcare provider to call you immediately if your child doesn’t arrive when expected.

Lethal temperatures

Don’ t leave children, elderly adults, disabled individuals or pets unattended in a vehicle in the heat, even if the windows are partially rolled down or the vehicle is running with the air conditioning on. Temperatures inside of a vehicle left in the direct sunlight can quickly climb to 110 to 125 degrees. Heat stroke in a child occurs at about 104 degrees.

Leave children and pets at home or take them inside with you.

Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When you put your child in the car seat, move the stuffed animal to the front passenger seat as a reminder that there is a child in the car.

Look before you leave

The National Safety Council recommends that parents and caregivers put a purse, wallet, briefcase or a cell phone in the back seat to remind themselves to check there before walking away from the car.

Always look in the car all the way around-front and back-before locking it. Remember “Park. Look. Lock,” “Look Before You Leave,” and “Where’s Baby?”

Keep your car doors and trunk locked year-round so kids can’ t get inside unattended vehicles.

Keep vehicle keys and remotes out of the reach of children and teach kids that cars aren’t play areas.


Pets should never be left in a vehicle in the sun. Dogs with obesity and previous medical conditions are at a higher risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Puppies, elderly dogs and dogs with dark-colored coats or long-haired coats are more susceptible to overheating and heat exhaustion.

Signs of an animal in distress from heat are drooling, panting, restlessness, agitation, weakness, disorientation, lack of balance, elevated heart rate and labored breathing.

What to do

If you see a child or individual alone in a locked car in the heat, call 911.

Get them out of the vehicle immediately if a car door is unlocked. Take them into the shade while staying on the line with 911 until police and/or an ambulance arrives.

If you can’t get a door open, ask 911 to advise you how to proceed if the child or person seems unresponsive, discolored or in severe distress. Every minute is vital for their survival.

If you discover a pet left in a hot vehicle, call 911 or local law enforcement and remain on the scene until help gets there.

If a child goes missing, check the insides and trunks of every vehicle in the area immediately. Teach your child to honk the car horn if they get stuck inside a car.

Additionally the Kids and Car Safety website cautioned adults to be very vigilant to watch for children in parking lots during summer festivities to avoid striking them. These can occur because drivers couldn’t see children age five or younger approaching their vehicle due to blind zones.

Public safety officials advise caregivers not to let toddlers walk in parking lots-carry them or use a stroller or a shopping cart. Hold hands with older children and teach them to watch for cars, they advised.