With record high temperatures in the forecast, Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital safety experts are issuing a safety reminder to parents to never leave a child in a vehicle – even for a minute – to prevent unintended injury or even death.
“In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 20 degrees and become deadly,” said Michelle Jamison, community health programs manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital . “Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. An outside temperature in the mid-60’s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Every year, about 40 children across the country die after being left in a hot vehicle. In 2022, 33 children died of heatstroke in vehicles. In 2023, 7 deaths were reported as of June.
In Utah, 13 children have died in hot vehicles since 1998, and others have suffered injuries in close calls.
Hot-car tragedies can happen to anyone, and often occur when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle or a caretaker forgets a child is in the car. Stress, fatigue, and change of routine – common for families during summer break and vacations – can push a person’s brain into autopilot, making it easier to forget.
“Unfortunately, even a great parent can forget a child in the back seat,” Jamison said. “Everyone should make it a habit to look in their back seat before they lock their vehicles, and when not in use, keep vehicles locked and keys out of reach of children. Nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.”
Primary Children’s Hospital is offering these Hold On To Dear Life child safety and injury prevention tips to help caretakers remember that a child is inside a vehicle to prevent unintentional injuries:
- Never leave your child alone in a vehicle – even for a few minutes. A child’s body temperature can increase 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Cracking a window has very little effect on the temperature inside the car.
- Always check your vehicle before leaving it.
- Keep a visual reminder that a child is with you, like a stuffed animal or diaper bag in the seat next to you.
- Place something you’ll need when you arrive at your destination, like your briefcase, backpack, purse or cell phone, in the back seat. That way, when you reach for the item, you’ll likely see the child.
- Keep your vehicle locked and keep your keys out of reach.
- Take action if you see a child left alone in a car. Contact police or call 911.
Hold On To Dear Life program is part of Intermountain Health’s more than $600 million Primary Promise to create the nation’s model health system for children. This historic campaign is a partnership between Intermountain Health and its communities, and has raised more than $500 million to date.
For more information about child safety and injury prevention, visit primarychildrens.org/safety.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.