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Stories like these give me chills (Baby dies, toddler hospitalized after being left in cars/Father Leaves Toddler in Hot Car). Before I became a parent, I’d instantly blame the parents.

How can this happen?! Well, sometimes it is shitty parenting. However, most of the time, it’s because an exhausted parent was up all night with a sick child and is rushing to work. Or it happens because one parent doesn’t usually drop the kids off at daycare and when that child falls asleep in his car seat, you forget he’s even there.

This country has become so rushed that parents are exhausted and always on-the-go. This really could happen to anyone. Instead of placing blame or shaking your head, articles like this should make you sit up and take stock of your daily routine to see where the risks lie and what you can do to prevent a tragedy like this from happening to your family.

First of all, never intentionally leave your child in a car unattended, not even for a few minutes. (I’m assuming those of you who are reading this, wouldn’t, but it has to be said.) Aside from a car not being a safe place for a child, it doesn’t take long for temperatures to become lethal in a parked car. Experts say that a the temperature in a car can rise from 80 to over 120 degrees in just 60 minutes and temperatures can become lethal in just 10 minutes.


This is an important message all year round — not just summertime. As you can see, the temperature can still become dangerous. According to experts, it takes only 20 minutes for the interior of a car to reach 100 degrees on a 70-degree day.

So how fast does the temperature rise in a parked car? Here’s a breakdown of the average elapsed time and temperature increase.

  • 10 minutes – +19 deg F
  • 20 minutes – +29 deg F
  • 30 minutes – +34 deg F
  • 60 minutes – +43 deg F
  • 1 to 2 hours – +45-50 deg F


Car-related deaths due to hyperthermia are not rare.

  • Total number of U.S. car-related hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars in 2011 (this doesn’t take into account the number of children who had to be hospitalized or were rescued before it was too late): 33
  • Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars since 1998:  537
  • Average number of U.S. child hyperthermia fatalities per year since 1998: 38

This chart was created May 25 and it's already inaccurate for 2012


Still not sitting up and paying attention or think this can’t happen to you? Check out these shocking statistics. (Source)

An examination of media reports about child vehicular hyperthermia deaths for a thirteen year period (1998 through 2011) shows the following circumstances (source). It’s unfortunate, but 82% of these instances were accidents.

  • 52% – child “forgotten” by caregiver
  • 30% – child playing in unattended vehicle
  • 17% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult
  • 1% – circumstances unknown


This applies to dogs too!

even with a window cracked


Now that I have your attention,  here are some tips to prevent this from happening to you (compiled from around the web).

  • First and foremost, always put your cell phone, purse, or briefcase, and anything else you’ll need that day, on the floor of the backseat. When you retrieve it at the end of the ride, you’ll notice your child.
  • Seat your younger (or quieter) child behind the front passenger seat, where he’s most likely to catch your eye.
  • Keep a teddy bear or other stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s empty. When you put your child in the seat, move the animal to the front passenger seat, to remind you that your baby’s on board.
  • Ask your child’s babysitter or daycare provider to always call you immediately if your child isn’t dropped off as scheduled.
  • Make a habit of always opening the back door of your car after you park, to check that there’s no child back there.
  • Never assume someone else — a spouse, an older child — has taken a young kid out of her seat. Such miscommunication has led to more than a few hot-car deaths.
  • Invest in a device to help you remember small passengers. The Cars-N-Kids monitor plays a lullabye when the car stops and a child is in the seat ($29.95). The ChildMinder System sounds an alarm if you walk away and leave your child in the seat ($69.95).
  • There are aps that will send you alerts, such as Baby Reminder.
  • Put visual cues in your office and home. Static-cling decals reminding you to check the car seat are available at Emmasinspirations.com and Kidsandcars.org.
  • Make sure that your children understand that your vehicle is not a place to play. Keep vehicle doors and trunks locked, even when you are at home. Keep your keys out of your child’s reach. If your child is missing, check your pool first and then check your vehicle, including the trunk, immediately to see if he or she is in it.
  • If you see a child that has been left unattended in a vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately and stay with the child until help arrives. If the child looks unresponsive, break the window to get her out.

Have a tip? Leave it in a comment and I’ll add it to the list.



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  1. HOW SAD IS THIS!!! I am definitely going to spread this around. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Babies and PETS too! 🙁 Thank you for writing this!!

  3. This is some great information… I’m sharing on twiitter!

  4. That is terrible! Going to share now so this stops!! =[

  5. This completely terrifies me! When you hear horrible stories about people this has happened to, I feel physically sick. Hate thinking about it, but thank you for the (very important) reminder.

  6. Wow, this is really scary, especially how fast temperatures can rise in cars. I’m glad that you also included dog safety in this post. I see dogs left in cars in parking lots so often and it’s devastating.

  7. I was so shocked at these statistics! I had no idea it happened this much so thank you for posting this article as a reminder. And the tips to safeguard from this happening are amazing.

  8. Thank you for this!! More people need to be more aware of the specifics! People always think “it would never happen to me”. Awareness is key! I’m stopping by from the Tuesday Archive Link UP and am now a new follower:) Would love if you could follow back when you get a chance;)



  9. This is my first time stopping by. I found you on the Tuesday Archive Link-Up via Debbie at Wrinkled Mommy.

    This is such a sad topic, and I’m shocked to see how many apps and things there are to serve as reminders. That really drives home the point of how big a problem it is. I can certainly understand the unintentional leave-behinds — as evidenced by how many people have inadvertently driven off with their coffee on the roof of their car, their purse, etc. It’s that small percentage that really infuriates me. I lived in New Orleans for several years, and time and time again, there were news reports of someone leaving their child(ren) in the car to go to a casino!! I can’t even imagine; I wouldn’t do that to my pet, never mind a child!! Thanks for sharing this important info.

  10. Thank you for this informative post. I had no idea this happens SO much! I’m always on the lookout for pets and children in cars – live in a very hot semi-tropical area, but I’ll be even more attentive now. Scary that people are so preoccupied (for lack of a better word).

  11. Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

    It is so sad how often and how easily this can happen. Awareness is key!

  12. Tricia @ Take 10 says:

    This happened here locally a few years back. It was so heart breaking. Thanks for spreading awareness.

  13. Diana Potter says:

    This is NOT a “horrible accident.” The public’s sympathy for parents who leave their children in hot cars seems totally unwarranted to me. It reminds me, in terms of where we are now with the issue, of the way drunk drivers who caused deaths and injuries used to be treated: as if they couldn’t help themselves, poor things, so let’s go easy on them in the courts. No more. I can only hope that public sympathy for people who leave children to die hideous deaths in hot cars will change in the same way. These people are not taking proper care of their children, period. It’s no different from not feeding them, except it kills them faster.


  1. […] on the Rocks two great posts about child safety: one on rear-facing car seats and the other on hot car deaths. And Kallie from Life in Texas has a great post about Winter Car Seat […]

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