The Dangers of Leaving Children Unattended in Cars

As long-awaited warmer weather arrives, parents and caregivers are reminded to be diligent and never leave children alone in vehicles. As of May 17 of this year, the lives of 6 children have already been claimed in the U.S. from heatstroke in a car. On average, there are 37 deaths a year in America due to these circumstances – these are all preventable.

“We know from past experience that fatalities can happen anytime, anywhere, including in moderate temperatures,” said Nick Lyon, director of MDHHS. “We don’t want to see this happen to any family. That’s why we are asking everyone to help protect kids from this very preventable tragedy by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”

It doesn’t have to be the middle of the summer for a child to get overheated. Even with seemingly mild temperatures outside, the temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than adult’s, making them more susceptible to heatstroke.  Temperatures inside a car can easily be double the temperature outside.

Too many children have lost their lives to this preventable, heartbreaking tragedy.  Together, we can cut down the number of deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT.

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.

C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

T: Take action. If you see or hear a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Several agencies have come together to keep this message in front of people throughout the warm weather season. Michigan State Police are reinforcing this message through the outreach efforts of their Community Service Troopers.  Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has joined the effort to remind families and care givers of this very preventable danger.  “We’re running awareness messages in our branches every day during the summer months to keep this kind of tragedy from happening,” Johnson said. “There’s no reason a child should ever be left alone in a car and that’s the message we’re committed to sharing.”

Safe Kids Coalitions across the state are working hard in their communities to increase awareness.  For more information and safety tips on preventing child heatstroke deaths, please visit www.safekids.org/heatstroke.

P.S. Don’t leave your pet in the car either!