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Blog – Children and vehicles can be a deadly combination. Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children.
As of May 25, nine children have died this year in the U.S. from being left in a vehicle – four during May alone. Even more alarming, the annual average number of deaths is 37 – about one child every nine days.
Last year, deaths were at an all-time low of 24 children. While we don't have scientific evidence to support the reasons for this decline, it may be a result of national efforts to increase public awareness about heatstroke and how to prevent it.
After a child dies from heatstroke, a common question is "How could someone let this happen?" A visit to www.noheatstroke.org provides some insight. Of the 661 children that died as a result of vehicular heatstroke between 1998 and 2015, 54% were reportedly forgotten by a caregiver, 29% were playing in an unattended vehicle, 17% were intentionally left in a vehicle by an adult, and for 1% the circumstances are unknown. This does not include the significant number of near misses, when children are rescued before a fatality.
Safety professionals emphasize several points about vehicular heatstroke: