Keep Your Child Safe from Heat Stroke and Hot Cars

June 28, 2022

empty car seat in back of car

According to the National Safety Council, every 10 days a child loses their life from heat stroke or being left in a hot car.

These types of accidents are preventable by practicing a few easy to remember strategies. Keep your child safe this summer, and anytime temperatures start to heat up, by following these five tips.

1. Take your child out of the car with you.

Even if it's 80 degrees outside with a nice breeze, the inside of a car can get 20 degrees hotter within 10 minutes. Cracked windows might not even be enough airflow to keep the car cool.

Since temperatures climb quickly in a car, always take your child out of the car with you — even if you are only running a quick errand.

Hot Car Safety for Children

Tamar Levene, MD, pediatric surgeon, provides tips to avoid forgetting your child in a hot car.

2. Place reminders for yourself.

We understand that life can get hectic as a parent. When you’ve had a rushed morning or your day is out of your normal routine, you might forget you have your child with you.

That’s why you should place reminders throughout your car to help remember your child is with you. For example, put your phone, left shoe, or car keys in the backseat next to your child. You can also put one of your child’s toys or bottles, or sippy cup in the passenger seat next to you.

3. Don’t let kids play in your car.

Kids often like to play around in cars and pretend they are driving. Even though kids find cars fun, don’t let them play in yours. Aside from the risk of hot cars, your child can easily fall while climbing around, accidentally open a door and fall out, or put the car into gear.

4. Check cars for lost kids first.

Check your car and trunk first if your child was playing in the backyard but is now missing. It’s a quick place to check for them before searching other areas that may be less dangerous.

Bonus tip: You should keep your car locked and your keys with you when you aren’t in it. Even if your child wants to get in the car to hide or play, you know they can’t do it without you around.

5. Know the signs of heatstroke.

Whether your child is out playing in the sun or sitting in a car, you should know the signs of heatstroke. They include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Red skin that is dry to the touch
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

If your child has these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. While you are waiting for help, get your child to a cool place, remove their clothes and drench them in cool water.

Physicians at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital are dedicated to the safety of all children. For more information on keeping your child safe from heat, sun, and water accidents during the summer, please visit our Summer Safety page.