August 10, 2017

Summertime Car Safety – Every 10 Days a Child Dies in a Vehicle from Heatstroke

By Shian Ponder

It’s a scenario no family should ever have to face. Unfortunately, 700 families have lost a child to heatstroke from being left in a hot car, since 1998. These tragedies could have been prevented.

“Today’s world is busy and fast, parents are constantly multitasking with many responsibilities. Believe it or not, it can be easy to forget a child is in the backseat sleeping, and it can happen to anyone,” said Beverly Hopps, a co-coordinator for WNC Safe Kids at Mission Children’s Hospital. “When you are in a rush, it can be very tempting to leave a child in the car for just a couple of minutes to run into the bank or a store.”

Leaving a child alone in a car, even for a minute, is never okay. While the temperature outside the car may feel like a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the inside of the car can rise almost 20 degrees within a matter of 10 minutes and can rise 50 degrees in over an hour. Young children are especially at risk for heatstroke since their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s body.

“We want to remind parents and caregivers that 100 percent of heatstroke deaths of children in cars are preventable,” said Hopps. She said that Safe Kids WNC wants to reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by encouraging parents and others to remember to ACT:

A = Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car.

C = Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a purse or a cellphone that you will need when you arrive.

T = Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. One call could save a life.

Other safety tips to keep in mind

  • Teach Kids Not to Play in Cars
  • Lock your vehicle, including doors and trunk, when you’re not using it. Keep keys and remote keys away from children.
  • Teach kids that trunks are for carrying stuff not safe places to play.
  • If your child is missing, get help and check swimming pools, vehicles and trunks. If your children are locked in a car, get them out as quickly as possible and dial 911 immediately.

Beverly Hopps is a co-coordinator for WNC Safe Kids at Mission Children’s Hospital. (828) 213-5548

Safe Kids WNC, led by Mission Children’s Hospital, is committed to reducing accidental injury among children in western North Carolina.

To learn more about our services, please call (828) 213-5548 or visit