Heatstroke Cars

Heatstroke Cars

Heatstroke in Cars Prevention

Definition: Vehicles heat up very quickly, and that heat can be fatal to young children. Children are at a higher risk than adults of dying from heatstroke in a vehicle because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults’ (NHTSA). Children who are too young to communicate or open car doors are at particularly high risk from heatstroke in a vehicle (NHTSA). It is never safe to leave a child or children alone in a vehicle.

Magnitude of the Problem: According to NHTSA:  

  • 661 children died due to heatstroke from 1998-2015.
  • It only takes ten minutes for a car to increase 20 degrees in temperature.
  • Heatstroke has occurred in temperatures as low as 57 degrees.


  • Never leave a child or children unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows cracked, even “for a minute”
  • Always check the backseat when exiting the vehicle (put your phone or your purse in the backseat to create a reminder system)
  • When not in use, always keep vehicle doors and trunks locked and keep keys out of reach of children
  • Make an agreement with your childcare provider to always call you as soon as possible when your child is absent
  • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a vehicle

National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Kids in Hot Cars Heatstroke Fact Sheet (2016).

Protecting Children from Heatstroke in Vehicles

It can happen to anyone, even the most loving parents and caregivers, but it is entirely preventable. Every 10 days a child dies from Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) while unattended in a car. The total number of PVH deaths in the US, from 1998 through 2020 is 882; an average of 38 fatalities a year.i It only takes a few minutes for a car to heat up and become deadly to a child inside.

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Apr 22 2021

Heatstroke in Cars

Heatstroke happens quickly and can be deadly. This infographic goes over the numbers on heatstroke in cars, the circumstances of deaths, clears up common misconceptions about heatstroke, and provides safety tips.

Download a PDF of the infographic for printing

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CSN Infographic

Child Passenger Safety: 2016 Resource Guide

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children ages one through 14 (CDC, 2016). In 2013, an average of three children were killed and 470 were injured every day in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. (NHTSA, 2015). Child passenger safety requires consistent use of correctly installed safety seats, booster seats, or seat belts that are appropriate for a child’s size and age. Child safety seats, when used correctly, can reduce fatalities by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers (NHTSA, 2013).

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CSN Resource Guide

Reducing the Potential for Heat Stroke to Children in Parked Motor Vehicles: Evaluation of Reminder Technology | NHTSA

The primary objective of the study was to evaluate products that are designed to prevent children up to 24 months old from being left behind in closed, parked vehicles – a scenario that can result in heat stroke. This preliminary assessment was the first of its kind to evaluate this kind of product. The efficacy of heat stroke prevention technologies in sensing the presence of a child in a child restraint and alerting the caregiver if he or she walks away from the car without removing the child was evaluated.

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Useful Publications

Parent Central: Heatstroke

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Injury Prevention Links

Kids and Cars

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Injury Prevention Links

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