Hot Cars Are Danger Zones for Children

As the temperature outside continues to rise, Oklahoma Children's Hospital has received three near-miss incidents involving children in hot cars. A near miss occurs when a child is rescued from a car in time to prevent serious injury or death. Any child unattended in a motor vehicle can be at risk for injury. As many as 40 children die each year from heat-related health complications after being left in hot cars. Most deaths occur from May through September. So far this year, 18 children have died nationwide.

The temperature inside a car can rise much more quickly than the outdoor temperature. This is true in a closed car, or even one with an open window. Research shows a car’s interior temperature can rise nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Also, a child’s temperature rises faster than an adult’s. A child can suffer permanent brain or organ damage or die within minutes of being left in a hot car.

"Due to the unseasonably hot weather, we need to be watchful of preventing the tragedy of a baby or child losing a life from heatstroke. These are preventable injuries that all of us working together can stop," said Laura Gamino, OU Health Outreach and Injury Prevention Coordinator and Safe Kids OKC Metro Coalition Coordinator.

Safe Kids OKC Metro and Oklahoma Children's Hospital want to remind parents and caregivers to never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Parents and caregivers can cut down the number of deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT:

  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
  • C: Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure your phone, briefcase or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
  • T: 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.

Oklahoma Children's Hospital and Safe Kids OKC Metro are working to ensure that no child is alone in a car, not even for a minute. We’re participating in an education and awareness program that provides posters and tip sheets at child care centers, doctor’s offices and hospitals and police and fire stations.

Since 1998, more than 740 children across the United States have died from heatstroke while unattended in cars. Help us spread the word to your community to stop these preventable tragedies.

To gain perspective on these tragic incidents, we ask that concerned residents read “Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Back seat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?” by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post Staff Writer.

  • Download Oklahoma Children's Hospital's OK Kids MD app for quick help locating the nearest ER or calling the Children's Hospital's 24/7 pediatric ER
  • Oklahoma Children's Hospital ER
  • Safe Kids Heatstroke Info

THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL At The Children’s Hospital, our specialty is kids. Our pediatric staff blends years of training with education, research and technology to keep our focus on improving the lives of children not only in Oklahoma City, but across the United States. Under one roof, we provide the state’s foremost care for laboring mothers and their newborns. Our neonatal intensive care unit provides the highest level of newborn care in Oklahoma. The Children’s Heart Center and Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children bring cutting-edge research and treatment offered nowhere else in the state, region and the even nation. We have the state’s largest staff of child life specialists to help children and families cope with hospitalization. Along with being the only 24/7 pediatric emergency room in Oklahoma City, MetroFamily Magazine readers have twice voted our ER as the favorite in the metro. To learn more, and find us on Facebook.

Safe Kids OKC Metro

Safe Kids OKC Metro works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children. Safe Kids OKC Metro is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing unintentional injury, the No. 1 cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of injuries each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable. Members include the Oklahoma City police and fire departments, Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, Infant Crisis Center, Latino Development Agency, Indian Health Services, Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service, Oklahoma City-County Health Department, The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, Oklahoma Safety Council, AAA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and the Michael Rumford Allstate Insurance Agency, to name a few.