As the temperatures start to climb, Cleveland Clinic Children’s emergency medicine physician Purva Grover is reminding parents of how quickly life-threatening heat can build up in a parked car.
Hot car deaths – which have increased in recent years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a record 53 children died from vehicular heatstroke in 2018 and 2019. There have been four deaths of children in hot cars in the United States so far this year, including a 9-month-old left in a car for several hours just outside Pensacola, Florida, last week.
“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,” Grover said.
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 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 is to put something you would need that day in the backseat, like a cellphone, briefcase or purse. You could even use one of your shoes.
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,” Grover said. “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.”