The Dangers of Leaving Children in Hot Cars

Lerner & Rowe Injury Attorneys

Summer is in full swing. This results in higher temperatures outside and higher instances of child vehicular endangerment, specifically, children left in hot cars. A child left in a vehicle during hot summer months is subject to heat stroke (hyperthermia) or other serious injuries caused by life-threatening temperatures.

Children Left in Hot Cars – The Stats

According to a fact sheet titled “Hyperthermia Deaths of Children in Vehicles” released by the San Francisco State University’s, Department of Geosciences; there have been at least 25 deaths of children left in hot cars so far this year in the U.S.; the national average of child hyperthermia fatalities per year since 1998 is 38. Nevada and its five neighboring states statistically show that 57 percent of child vehicular deaths from 2003-2011 were among infants up to one year old.

Circumstances leading up to vehicular heat stroke deaths of children left in hot cars include:

  • 52% of children forgotten by caregiver
  • 30% of children playing in an unattended vehicle
  • 17% of children intentionally left in vehicle by adult
  • 1% involves unknown circumstances

Many parents and organizations have created tips and tricks on how to reduce the number of “forgotten” child vehicle-hyperthermia deaths. A few of them are:

  • Place a purse or other personal article next to the child in the backseat that you would notice missing once you got out of your vehicle.
  • Put diaper bag on front seat as a reminder your child is in the backseat.
  • Program cell phone to send a reminder.
  • Make it a habit to always check your backseat before you leave your vehicle.
  • Lastly, request that your child’s daycare provider/teacher call if child does not arrive at normal time.

“Be like an elephant, never forget.” — Forget Me Not USA


The state of Nevada is one of 19 states that have passed laws that make it illegal to leave a child of a certain age unattended in a vehicle.  NRS 200.508, a single child at least eight years old to remain unattended in a vehicle with safe conditions.  “Safe” defined as conditions that are not potentially hazardous to a child’s safety and the keys are not in the ignition.  If there is more than one child, there must be a supervisory child that is at least 12 years old.

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