As temperatures rise, danger increases. Vehicular heatstroke affects children and pets the most. Learn what proactive measures you can take to protect your loved ones and have a safe, heatstroke-free summer.
What is it? Vehicular heatstroke occurs when a child is left behind or trapped inside a vehicle and their body temperatures increases to the point it can no longer cool itself. Heatstroke is fatal once a child’s internal body temperature reaches 107, which can happen in a matter of minutes.
How does this happen? The majority of vehicular heatstroke cases occur when a parent unintentionally forgets their child is in the vehicle with them. This is often due to a change in routine, stress or a false memory that leads parents to think their child is elsewhere. In other cases, children get into a vehicle without their parent’s knowledge and become trapped.
Vehicular heatstroke can happen to the most loving of parents and caregivers. Listen to Angela Jones' story, a Phoenix mom who tragically lost her child to vehicular heatstroke.
Why it matters: Vehicular heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle related deaths in children under 14. The most vulnerable are children under 2 years of age, which make up more than half of all vehicular heatstroke deaths.
- True or False: Parking in the shade or leaving a window open will significantly reduce the temperature inside a car. Scroll down to the end of the article to find out.*
The good news is vehicular heatstroke is completely preventable. The best way to prevent vehicular heatstroke is to have multiple systems in place to ensure your child's safety. The first step is to create a habit of checking your back seat every time you exit your vehicle. You can also leave a bag, phone or wallet in the backseat to make sure you #LookBeforeYouLock (use this hashtag and share a photo of you checking your backseat on social media and don't forget to tag us!). Make sure to incorporate these strategies to your routine as well:
- If someone else is transporting your child, set a reminder to call and make sure your child has arrived safely.
- Ask your school or child care to call you if your child doesn't show up when they're suppose to.
- Keep your vehicle locked at all times, especially while it's parked at home, and keep your keys out of reach.
- Teach your children that a car is not a toy, and that if they get trapped inside a car they can honk for help.
- If a child is missing at home always check your car (and pool) first.
Remember, every action counts, whether it's spreading awareness, checking your vehicle before leaving, or intervening if you encounter an unattended child or pet in distress. Together, we can improve the well-being of our community by ensuring that no life is lost to the devastating effects of vehicular heatstroke. Stay informed, stay alert, and let's make this summer a safe one for everyone. To learn more visit our vehicular heatstroke page.
*False! Because we experience such high temperatures in the Valley, parking in the shade or leaving a window open will do little to reduce the temperature inside a parked car.