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Published on June 14, 2019

Summer Car Safety for Kids: 10 Tips to Protect Your Child

Hot car safety

Summertime provides warm and sunny weather for new families to enjoy – but before you head out in the heat, it’s important to be mindful of summer car safety for kids.

Each year in the United States, approximately 38 children die from heatstroke caused by being left alone in a hot car. Approximately 55% of child vehicular heatstroke deaths occur when a caregiver leaves a child in a car accidentally (KidsAndCars.org).

In the busy life of a new parent, it’s easy to become distracted:

  • New parents take care of many responsibilities, like running errands, cooking meals and working.
  • They get through their day on little sleep.
  • They experience the ups and downs of rapidly changing hormones.
  • Their daily routines are often interrupted.

Common distractions like these can lead to unexpected tragedies. One of the most important things for parents to remember is that this tragedy can happen to anyone – even if you think that you could never forget your child in the car.

Practicing extra caution is key for keeping your child safe. Using these practical tips can help you stay mindful of summer car safety:

10 Summer Car Safety Tips for Kids:

  1. Never leave children in a vehicle unsupervised, even if you are planning to walk away for just a moment. It’s easy to become distracted and let time get away from you.
  2. Use drive-through services that allow you to stay in your car with your child when possible.
  3. Open the back door and check the backseat every time you get out of your car, even if you think your child is not with you.
  4. Put an important item like a purse, wallet or phone in the backseat that will remind you to look before you leave.
  5. Communicate with other adults in the car when exiting a vehicle. Say out loud who has helped each child exit to make sure no one is left behind.
  6. Ensure children cannot get in vehicles on their own: keep car keys out of children’s reach, and always keep vehicles locked.
  7. Search nearby vehicles first if your child is missing, even if they are locked.
  8. Teach children to honk the horn if they become stuck inside of a vehicle.
  9. Ask your child’s day care provider or school to call you immediately if your child is late.
  10. Practice extra caution during times when your daily schedule is interrupted, such as during a holiday or emergency.

It’s important to act fast if you see a child alone in a hot car. If the child seems sick, sleepy or otherwise in danger, call 911 immediately and help them exit the car as soon as possible.

About the author

Pam Reitnauer, MD, MPH, PhDPam Reitnauer, MD, MPH, PhD, specializes in pediatric medical genetics and is a faculty member of the Cone Health Pediatric Teaching Program.