JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly a dozen hot car deaths have occurred so far this year -- all under the age of 4. While each is tragic, experts who track these said there have been fewer fatalities this year due to the pandemic.
So far this year 11 left in vehicles across the country have died, with six so far this summer. Only one of those was in Florida -- the death of a 10-month-old in Clewiston on May 28.
While hot car deaths have been reported in every month of the year in the United States, July is the peak month for fatalities.
With coronavirus restrictions having forced people to make fewer trips, it has skewed this year’s statistics lower.
Meteorologist Jan Null, a national hot car expert who has been tracking deaths since 1998, said an average of 39 deaths occur per year and Florida takes second place in hot car deaths, just behind Texas.
Most of the deaths happen to children 3 and under. Last year, 3-month-old Brooklyn Isaac died when left in a day care van in Jacksonville on a hot 95° May afternoon.
Some guardians leave children in a vehicle while on an errand, which can be disastrous due to car interiors heating much quicker than outside.
Many people don’t realize how quickly the heat in a car swells, reaching 67% hotter than outside temperatures in just 20 minutes.
It is never safe to leave a child in a locked car.
Temperatures don’t have to be in the 90s to cause pediatric heatstroke. This April, a 5-year-old died in a Texas car when the temperature was just 78°.
Over half of the fatalities were children forgotten in the car, and 26% of two to four year old’s get into cars and can’t get out.
Null’s website Noheatstroke.org provides valuable tips on protecting children, including:
- Never leave a child unattended for even a minute.
- Caretakers and parents need to look before you lock or keep a reminder or note to help remember about the backseat child.
- Children should always be reminded cars are not areas to play in.
- People should call 911 if they see an alone child.