Dangers of leaving child in hot car

A physician talks about hot car deaths and how parents can help prevent an accident from happening. 

As the temperatures start to climb, Cleveland Clinic Children’s emergency medicine physician, Purva Grover, MD, is warning parents about hot car deaths—which have increased in recent years. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a record 53 children died from vehicular heatstroke in 2018 and 2019. There has been one death so far this year. 

“This is a topic very close to my heart, and the reason is we see this loss every summer. Every summer, we see and hear about a tragedy which could have been prevented,” said Dr. Grover. 

NHTSA reports that a car can reach 115 degrees when it’s just 70 degrees outside. The federal agency also noted the majority of hot car deaths happen because a child was left behind in the vehicle. 

People may wonder how that’s possible, but Dr. Grover said it can happen to anyone. A parent could be running late for work and get distracted or maybe the caretaker’s routine changed and they forgot. 

Her advice, put something you would need that day in the backseat, like a cellphone, briefcase or purse. You could even use one of your shoes. 

Dr. Grover said those items are by no means more important than a child, but it can help provide an extra layer of protection. 

“The more awareness we create about something, the more we hear about something, the more cognizant we might be as we go through our daily lives,” said Dr. Grover. “To say, ‘Oh that day I heard so-and-so talk about it.’ Even if it just brushes or crosses your mind one hot second, that might be that one second of cognizance which reminds you or alerts you and can really save a human life.” 

Dr. Grover said another suggestion is to leave your car windows cracked. That way there is some air flow in the vehicle. It would also make it easier for a bystander to hear yelling or crying if a child was accidentally left behind. 

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