Near-record Number of Children Died in Hot Cars in 2018

From January through September, 2018, 48 children had died from being left in hot cars. The deadliest year on record was 2010, when 49 children died. All of these deaths are preventable.

Parents and caregivers can act immediately to end these deaths. Even on relatively mild days, temperatures inside vehicles still can reach life-threatening levels in minutes, and cracking the window doesn't help.

The National Safety Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas. Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last glance.

A Legislative Look

NSC released a groundbreaking report on pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) titled, Kids in Hot Cars; a Legislative Look Across the U.S.

In an effort to better understand and document this risk, NSC works with partner experts, including Jan Null, a certified consulting meteorologist and adjunct professor at San Jose State University. Mr. Null has been tracking child deaths resulting from vehicular heatstroke since 1998, and his work provides the basis for data and information in this report.

The objective of the report is to:

  • Support stronger laws to protect children from being knowingly left unattended in vehicles
  • Increase awareness and understanding of vehicle heating dynamics
  • Increase awareness of the risk of children gaining access to vehicles on their own
  • Encourage policies for childcare providers
  • Recommend study of factors that contribute to unknowingly leaving a child in a vehicle

The report also features a first-hand account of a father who lost his beloved daughter.

Dozens of children die needlessly this way every year, and it can happen to anyone. Please read and share this life-saving information.

Download the Report Today

Additional Resources

Ten minutes. That’s how long it takes for the temperature inside a vehicle to rise 20 degrees. For children in particular, this increase is enough to result in death.

Safe Kids Worldwide produced a toolkit that includes a printable tip sheet: Everything you need to know to keep your kids safe from heatstroke. Here are five recommendations:

  • Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute
  • Keep your car locked when you are not in it so kids don't gain access
  • Create reminders by putting something in the back seat next to your child, such as a briefcase, purse, cell phone or your left shoe
  • If you see a child alone in a car, call 911
  • Set a calendar reminder on your electronic device to make sure you dropped your child off at daycare; develop a plan so you will be alerted if your child is late or a no-show

Technology Can be Part of the Solution

NSC backs efforts to use technology to prevent children from being forgotten in vehicles. Without offering an endorsement of any vehicle or product, NSC provides the following information to help parents and guardians protect their most precious passengers:

  • Rear Seat Reminder: If a rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or is opened and closed while the vehicle is running, five chimes will sound and a message will display on the instrument panel when the vehicle shuts off to remind the driver to check the rear seat. This technology is available on several 2017 GM vehicles.
  • Car Seat Technology: This technology generates a series of tones activated through a "smart" chest clip and wireless receiver to remind the driver that a child is in the rear seat within two seconds of turning off the vehicle.

A Needless Risk


Hold On to Dear Life is a campaign of Primary Children's Hospital.


A Promise to Payton


Learn about one father's experience and what he is doing to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving kids in hot cars. Then, test yourself. Take the SaferCar.gov quiz: How Much Do You Know About Preventing Child Heatstroke?


Other Resources