Preventing hot car deaths

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Heatstroke can be a killer and young children are at the greatest risk of becoming victims.

On average, across the country, 38 kids die in hot cars every year.

Dr. Ryan Redman, an emergency room doctor at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, stopped by the WATE 6 On Your Side studios to share insights on preventing hot car deaths.

How do these tragedies happen most often?

  • Child is forgotten by caregiver: This is the case 54% of the time and most often happens when we are doing something outside our normal schedule – a parent that doesn’t normally drop off child at day care, for example, changes routine that day.
  • Leaving a child “for just a few minutes”: We’re all trying to social distance and cut down on public outings – some people may be tempted to leave a child in the car, “just for a few minutes.” DON’T! It is dangerous. Heatstroke happens quickly.
  • Child plays in unattended vehicle: A curious child will get into a car and can’t figure out how to get back out.

What happens to a child’s body during heatstroke?

  • The child’s core temperature reaches 104 degrees quickly, which can lead to possible brain damage or even death.
  • A child’s body temperature can heat up three-to-five times faster than an adult’s body.

How to prevent hot car deaths among children

  • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute.
  • Make it a habit to look in the backseat every time you exit your vehicle; you can put something like a cell phone, purse, work ID badge or work bag in the backseat in order to require you to check.
  • Always lock the car put the keys out of reach.
  • Take action if you see a child alone in a vehicle — call 911.


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