Children dying as a result of being left in a car under warm temperatures is a devastating tragedy. However, the reality is, it happens quite often across America, especially in hot climates and during the summer months. In fact, hot car deaths have increased in the U.S. as of July 31; hitting a record high.
To date in 2017, 29 kids have passed away after being left in a car during warm temperatures. That’s an increase from last year at this point in time. Eleven of those kids were reported during the last week of July. In 2016 at the end of July, the hot car death rate was at 28, with the year ending up with a total of 49 kids passing away from this terrible circumstance.
Sadly, as someone is driving along with the air conditioner on and turns the car off when parked, a car can become an instant hot zone; heating up and becoming hotter and hotter as the sun beams through the windows. As kids do not have a fully-developed central nervous system, they are unable to deal with temperature changes; which is why it is so difficult for kiddos to stay hydrated in hot weather, as well. Children’s core body temperatures can also increase five folds faster than that of a full-grown adult. When temperatures increase within the body, heatstroke kicks in. This can cause permanent heart, brain, and kidney damage, as well as changes in consciousness; which increases the risk of death for a kid or adult alike.
CNN reported that approximately 37 children pass away annually (on average) due to being left in a vehicle; that is a total of over 700 deaths since 1998. As such, there is talk of a safety feature option on new cars to prevent some of these fatalities. Senators Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal have rolled out legislation recently, hoping that new passenger cars will be equipped with a safety alert system; technology that can give drivers a heads up if a child has been left in a vehicle once it is turned off. Referred to as the HOT CARS Act (Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seat) the hope is to stop heatstroke fatalities in kids left behind in cars. Hand-in-hand with this system for new cars the Act would lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look at alternatives to refit older cars with a similar system.
Still, this act will only help just over 50 percent of kids who pass away from hot car deaths because of being left behind in a vehicle; as there is another 28 percent of fatalities due to kids entering vehicles on their own. A remaining 17 percent of these hot car deaths in kids occur when caretakers and parents make the poor choice of leaving a kid in a car to ‘quickly’ do something else.