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Look Before You Lock -- Preventing Vehicle Heatstroke

It’s a growing problem that comes with disastrous results. Each year, approximately 37 children die from preventable vehicular heatstroke, making heatstroke the leading cause of noncrash-related deaths for children under the age of 14. As of July 2015, 10 children have already lost their lives to heatstroke after being left in vehicles across the nation. 

The personal injury attorneys of Hupy and Abraham ask parents, caregivers and bystanders to be aware of this issue, and offer the following information and tips to avoid this preventable tragedy in our communities.

No matter how busy you are, you should never leave a child alone in a vehicle for any length of time, even if the windows are open. Opening car windows will not prevent heatstroke which occurs five times faster in children than in adults. People don’t realize that in just 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees. Children left in cars can overheat even on cloudy days with outside temperatures below 70 degrees. Heatstroke can even occur in the winter if a car is sealed and the sun is out.

Always Look Before You Lock:

  • Remember to always lock the doors and trunk of vehicles. Remind children that cars are dangerous places to play. Kids can be easily trapped in vehicles especially with child locks and trunks. Keep keys out of reach.
  • Remind friends, family members or care providers to communicate drop-off and pick-up times. Communicating times helps everyone avoid forgetting small children during chaotic or busy days. In most cases, parents and caregivers report forgetting a child in their vehicle when their daily schedule has been altered or disrupted.
  • Keep shoes, bags or other important items in the back seat next to children. Or, keep a stuffed toy in the child's car seat. When placing a child in the seat, move the toy up front as a reminder. By displacing your belongings, you are forced to acknowledge the back of the vehicle -- and the child.

If you see a child alone in a car, don’t be afraid to act. Protecting children is everyone’s business. Laws known as Good Samaritan laws exist to protect those who offer assistance in an emergency. Be proactive, and look inside parked cars whenever you walk through lots.

If you see a child alone in a vehicle:

  • Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return.
  • Call 911 immediately if the child is not responsive or is in distress. Get the child out of the car. If there is no way in, break a window that will not harm the child.
  • Stay until help arrives if the child is responsive. Someone should search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.

It is important for people to understand the potential consequences of leaving children in hot cars. A simple lapse in judgment could result in severe injury or death of a child, being arrested and jailed, and being forced to live with a lifetime of regret.

If your child is the victim of vehicular heatstroke due to the negligence of another, please contact Hupy and Abraham to discuss how to proceed. Call for a free consultation at 800-800-5678, or start a live chat with us now at