Tragically, a growing number of infant children die each year from heatstroke suffered when left unattended in the rear seats of passenger vehicles. According to statistics from NoHeatStroke.org, more than 50 children died from heatstroke while in rear seats in 2018. This is the most on an annual basis and brings the total to more than 800 since 1998.
In 2019, major automakers voluntarily committed to put lifesaving rear-seat reminder systems into their vehicles to help combat pediatric vehicular heatstroke. Under this commitment, automakers will help address this problem by introducing a wide range of approaches to help parents and caregivers remember to check the back seat as they leave a vehicle. At a minimum, these prompts will include a combination of auditory and visual alerts that will activate after a driver turns off the vehicle. With this pledge, the auto industry commits to having the rear seat reminder feature in essentially all cars and trucks by Model Year 2025 or sooner.
While individual automakers have committed to roll out the new features soon, it is important for parents and caregivers to know that it is never okay to leave a child alone in a vehicle, even for a short time. Raising public awareness about the danger related to leaving children in vehicles is absolutely critical to help prevent heatstroke fatalities.
- As part of its continued public awareness and education campaign, industry leaders have aligned with other organizations to encourage the public to “Look Before You Lock.” It’s never okay to leave a child alone in a vehicle for any length of time. It only takes 10 minutes for a vehicle’s interior temperature to rise nearly 20 degrees, and a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
- If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies
- Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. Teach children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area
- If a child is missing, always check the pool first, and then the car, including the trunk
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver. Or place your purse, briefcase or cell phone in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car
- Make "look before you lock" a routine whenever you get out of the car
- Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school