Hot Cars and Kids Don't Mix

Heat illness or death can occur if a child is intentionally left in a vehicle, gains access to a vehicle or is unknowingly left behind. While relatively rare, Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) remains a worldwide public health matter. Fortunately, these tragedies are largely preventable with a few simple steps. 

No Quick Trips

It might be tempting to leave a child in the car if you are running a quick errand. However, a car can heat up to dangerous levels in just a short amount of time, even with the windows cracked. For example, on an 80-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can be over 100 F after just 15 minutes. If you cannot leave your child at home with another responsible person, consider curbside pickup for groceries, drive up windows for banking or home delivery for medications. 

Lock Up and Keep Key Fobs Secure 

Keep your car locked when it is parked. Teach children that vehicles are not play areas. If a child is missing, check the pool first, then the car, including the trunk. 

Create Reminders 

A loving and capable parent or caregiver can make a mistake, especially if they are tired or distracted. Try these reminders: 

  • Put your cell phone or even your shoe in the back seat.  

  • Put baby’s diaper back or an older child’s backpack in the front seat where you can see it. 
  • Ask your babysitter or childcare provider to call you if your child doesn’t arrive as expected.
  • Check in with another caregiver to confirm dropoff.

Take Action   

If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911. Your fast action can save a life. 

Maureen Johnson is the Child Passenger Safety Specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center. Learn more at

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