Always Check Twice: How To Prevent Hot Car Deaths

Have you ever forgotten something important? Maybe you’ve missed a flight after forgetting to double-check the time, forgotten a spouse’s birthday, or failed to remember a big meeting at work. Whatever the incident, it’s likely that you’ve forgotten something important at least once in your life. To err is human, after all.

Usually, the consequences of forgetting something are temporary. You can book another flight, plan a late surprise for your spouse, or promise your boss that you will do better next time. But other times, a simple moment of forgetfulness can have devastating, permanent consequences. Forgetting a child inside a hot car is one of these times.

If you’re a parent, guardian, or any kind of caretaker, the idea of forgetting about a child might seem ridiculous. Everyone likes to think that they would never be the one to forget about their child, but in reality, even the most attentive and loving person can make a quick, simple mistake that leads to fatal consequences.

Simple Mistakes, Tragic Consequences

Many incidents of hot car deaths involve a change in daily routine. For example, imagine that a parent usually drops their child off at daycare, then goes to the grocery store.  But one day, they decide to go to the store before daycare. Because this is a change to their ingrained routine, they might forget that they haven’t dropped their child off yet. If the child is asleep or playing quietly in the back seat, it can be scarily easy for parents to head home, go inside, and forget that their child is still in the car. By the time they realize their mistake, it is often too late. Sometimes, they don’t even realize until they get back into the car, intending to drive to go pick their child up from where they thought they dropped them off.

In most cases, hot car deaths are not the result of malicious intent. While there have been cases of adults purposefully leaving children in cars, most tragedies are the result of simple forgetfulness. But whether the act of leaving a child in a car is malicious or not, it can still have the same results.

The Dangers of Hot Cars

Inside a car with the windows closed, temperatures can rapidly increase. For example, when it’s 86 degrees outside, it only takes about ten minutes for the inside of a car to reach 105 degrees. When the body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees, which can quickly occur in a locked car due to the lack of air flow, heat stroke can occur. When someone experiences heat stroke, they might experience seizures, confusion, organ failure, and a loss of consciousness. Without treatment, it can be fatal. For children, the rise in body temperature can occur very quickly. This makes the symptoms of heat stroke more dangerous for children than they are for adults.

In Florida, hot car deaths are not an uncommon tragedy. Between 1990 and 2017, 837 children have died from being left in a hot car, and 89 of those deaths occurred in Florida. This summer, one incident occurred in Pembroke Pines. After being left alone in a car for over eight hours while outside temperatures swelled to a heat index of 103 degrees, a one-year-old boy died from heat-related injuries. He was the 24th child to die in a hot car in 2018, and the second in Florida.

Preventing Hot Car Deaths

While it’s easy to make the errors that lead to hot car deaths, preventing them is just as simple. To avoid leaving a child in a car, it is recommended that you leave something else in the backseat with your child. This might include a purse, cell phone, or even shoes. By putting something essential in the backseat of your car, you will be reminded that your child is there, too. You can also make arrangements with your child’s daycare or school to call you if your child doesn’t show up. Never purposefully leave your child in a car, even if you are making a quick run into a store. Again, even a few minutes in a hot car can be incredibly dangerous for a child.

The accidental death of a child in a hot car is not something any parent or guardian ever wants to think about. Be aware of the facts and dangers. You can take the rights steps to prevent a tragic accident from happening to your family.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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