Even on mild or cloudy days, temperatures inside parked vehicles can reach life-threatening levels. Unfortunately, vehicular heatstroke continues to take the lives of those most vulnerable in our communities, our children. The three primary circumstances that result in vehicular heatstroke deaths are when parents forget a child in a hot car, when a child gains access to a car and when someone knowingly leaves a child in a hot car. Last year, out of the 25 vehicular heatstroke deaths in the country, one occurred in Maricopa County. This year there have been zero vehicular heatstroke deaths in Arizona, and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office wants to help keep it that way the rest of the year.
As temperatures continue to rise and routines shift during the summer, everyone should be vigilant and help keep children safe. The best way to prevent vehicular heatstroke is to incorporate safety habits into your daily routine consistently. Avoid distractions while driving and remain focused if a child is in the backseat. If someone else is driving your child, always call to make sure they've arrived at their destination safely. Ask your child-care provider to call if your child is ever more than 10 minutes late. Create reminders for yourself or use an app such as Waze, Baby on Board, or Kars4Kids Safety to help remind you to check your back seat. You can also use a visual reminder to get you to check your backseat.
Talk to your kids and remind them that playing in or around vehicles is not safe. For example, a game of hide and seek can become dangerous if a child becomes trapped inside a hot car. Teach your children to honk if they are ever trapped or forgotten inside a vehicle.
As a bystander, keep an eye out for kids left in cars in parking lots. Under Arizona law, it is permissible to rescue a child or pet from a parked vehicle under certain circumstances if you believe their life is in danger.
Make a plan to remember every time a child or pet is in your backseat and help Arizona ensure that not one more life is lost to vehicular heatstroke.
Visit our vehicular heatstroke page to learn more.