Three children died in the United States due to extreme heat inside vehicles between July 14 and July 15. The children from Florida, Nevada, and Tennessee are among the almost two dozen cases this year of preventable deaths due to heatstroke in cars, usually caused by parents forgetting their child is in the vehicle.
On the afternoon of July 14, police in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, found a 2-year-old dead in a car in 91-degree heat. They estimated the child had been left in the vehicle overnight.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, together with the local police, are investigating the incident and will determine if charges should be filed.
On July 15, 23-month-old Khayden Saint Sauveur was found inside a car parked outside a home in Delray Beach, Florida. Sauveur was pronounced dead shortly after being transported to a local hospital.
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Police said it appeared the child had somehow gotten inside the car without his parents noticing and could have been inside for two hours. It was 90 degrees that day.
Also on July 15, around 5 p.m., Las Vegas Metropolitan Police were called to rescue a 3-year-old boy suffering from heat-related injuries. The boy, who had been left in a car for at least an hour, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Police said the boy’s family had lost track of him during a large family reunion that included about a dozen children. That day saw highs of 114 degrees.
In such heat, interior car temperatures can quickly reach 120 degrees and climb to over 150 degrees.
So far this year, 23 children have died of heatstroke after being left in cars, according to a tally kept by NoHeatStroke.org, a website started by Jan Null, a lecturer in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San José State University.
While the phenomenon may have received more attention in recent years, the average number of cases hasn’t changed significantly over the past 20 years, with between 30 and 50 lives claimed each year.
The website offers several safety recommendations:
- Don’t leave a child unattended in a car, even for a short period of time.
- If you see a child left unattended in a car, call 911.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s not in use. When the child is in the seat, place the stuffed animal in the front seat with the driver, to serve as a visual reminder.
- Put your purse, briefcase, or cell phone in the back seat as a reminder that you have a child in the car.
- Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car.
- Have a plan with your childcare provider to have them call you if your child does not show up for care.