The nonprofit group National Safety Council examined data about the number of heatstroke deaths for children left alone in cars. The group also looked at what circumstances led to the child being left behind in the first place.
Thirty-seven children die every year in the United States from being left in hot cars, according to the research. The report shows 742 children died of heatstroke in vehicles from 1998 to 2017 with 42 deaths in 2017. That's up from 2016 numbers, when 39 children died in the same situations.
The majority of times a child dies of heatstroke after being left alone in a car is from parents or caregivers unknowingly leaving that child behind, according to the report. That happens 55 percent of the time. Twenty-seven percent of these deaths happened after children gained access to a car on their own and 18 percent were after children had been purposely left behind.
According to the nonprofit website KidsAndCars.org, a site dedicated to preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around vehicles, the interior temperature of a car can reach 125 degrees in a matter of minutes. Eighty percent of the temperature increase takes place in the first ten minutes, making even short trips inside with kids or pets in the car dangerous.
Police recommend keeping items like a phone, wallet or bag in the back seat when driving, even without young children in the car, to create the habit of checking the back seat every time you park the car.
A new app was recently developed to remind drivers if they have a passenger in the back seat. The app, called The Backseat, can even contact three emergency contacts if the user does not respond to alerts about a child in the car.
Here are some additional tips and resources about how to prevent tragedies like this.