Summer is approaching, which means driving kids around to more places in high temperatures. It can also mean additional distractions. Anticipating these circumstances, experts are sharing a sobering statistic: 51 children perished in hot cars in the United States in 2018 — more than in any other year on record.
The National Safety Council (NSC) said the previous single-year high was in 2010, when 49 deaths in hot cars were reported, according to US News & World Report.
"Last year, we set one of the saddest records in U.S. roadway safety history," said Nick Smith, NSC interim president and CEO.
To educate the public, the NSC has released a free online training video called Children in Hot Cars.
The 15-minute video shows how distracted parents or caregivers and other circumstances can lead to children dying in overheated vehicles and the best way to prevent these tragedies. It also explains why children are especially vulnerable to high temperatures in cars and why the cars heat up so quickly.
According to the NSC, hot-car deaths are a form of distracted driving that is overlooked. The driver often forgets the child in the back seat.
Smith believes the video will shine a light on the factors that contribute to these deaths, and offer advice on how to avoid them.
"We believe this new training will go a long way toward educating people about pediatric vehicular heatstroke and empowering them with tips so they can avoid behaviors that can lead to these tragic deaths,” he said in an NSC news release.
Here are some of the recommendations from the video:
• Maintain a routine to reduce the risk of forgetting a child in a vehicle.
• Keep parked car doors locked so children cannot get inside, and teach children that cars are not play areas.
• Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the backseat of a vehicle so you have to look there before you lock the vehicle.
The statistics on hot car deaths are staggering: On average, 38 children younger than 15 die every year in the U.S. from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle.
This also includes children who perish after getting into an unlocked vehicle unnoticed, the safety council said.
Keep your children safe by using the NSC suggestions, and take a few minutes to watch the "Children in Hot Cars" training course for free. It could save a life.