Pandemic’s Impact on Hot Car Deaths an Ongoing Concern
In just 3 days, four children have died in hot cars in the U.S. On Saturday, 1 and 3-year-old brothers died in Alabama after getting into the family vehicle and a 4-year-old boy died in Texas after being unknowingly left in his mother’s vehicle. On Monday, a 3-year-old girl died after being unknowingly left a vehicle in Oklahoma. While the overall total number of child hot car deaths is lower than average for this time of year, KidsAndCars.org worries that the death toll will continue to rise as family’s routines continue to change.
It seems as though every day we are dealing with something different. School plans, daycare policies and at-home work schedules are frequently shifting for many as the pandemic continues its control on our lives and schedules.
Sadly, increased time at home for young children has caused a drastic increase in the percentage of hot car deaths of children getting into vehicles on their own. The average for these types of tragedies is 26% of all child hot car deaths and this year it has skyrocketed to 42%.
Tips to make sure children cannot get into a parked car from KidsAndCars.org:
- Prevent toddlers from exiting the home unnoticed
- Keep vehicles locked at all times, especially at home and even if you do not have children. Ask neighbors and visitors to do the same.
- Never leave car keys within reach of children.
- Teach children to honk the horn if they become stuck inside a car.
- If a child is missing, immediately check the inside, floorboards and trunk of all vehicles in the area very carefully.
Not only has the pandemic influenced the number of children gaining access to vehicles, but at this point it has also decreased the number of cases involving children unknowingly left in hot cars.
“Parents and caregivers should not let their guard down, but rather should be extra vigilant. Now that some businesses and schools are opening back up, family routines are once again fluctuating. A change in routine is the most common contributing factors to children being unknowingly left in vehicles, said Janette Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org.
Tips to make sure your child is never left alone in a car from KidsAndCars.org:
- Look Before You Lock: Make it a habit of opening the back door every time you park to ensure no one is left behind.
- To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without in the back seat - employee badge, laptop, phone, handbag, etc.
- Ask your child care provider to call you right away if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled.
- Clearly announce and confirm who is taking each child out of the vehicle. Miscommunication can lead to everyone thinking someone else removed the child.
The Hot Cars Act (H.R. 3593) passed the full House on July 1, 2020 as part of the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2). This bill would require available, affordable technology to detect the presence of a child inside a vehicle. Safety standards are critical because they are enforceable and ensure the effectiveness of the technology used by automakers. Parents rightfully expect high-quality reminder systems to help back up their memories and keep their children out of harm’s way.