Never Leave a Child Alone in a Car

Author: Shannon Miller

The most important thing to a mother is healthy and safe kids.

“I just need to grab the dry cleaning, it’ll take a quick minute.”

“My little one is fast asleep, no reason to wake her when I’ll only be gone a second.”

It’s tempting to want to keep your little ones strapped safely in the car while you run in for a quick errand. However, that quick errand could prove deadly to your child. And as an over tired and often multitasking parent, it’s easier than you might  think to forget there is a sleeping baby in the backseat. Talk to everyone that may drive or be with your child around a vehicle, including family members and caregivers, about the acronym, ACT.

Since 1998, more than 550 children across the United States have died from heatstroke while unattended in cars. You can help Safe Kids World Wide spread the word to your community to stop these preventable tragedies.

Parents and caregivers 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 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:    What is heatstroke?

A: Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is a condition that occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels.

 Q:    What are symptoms of heat stroke?

A:    Symptoms may include dizziness; disorientation; agitation; confusion; sluggishness; seizure; hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty; loss of consciousness; rapid heartbeat or hallucinations.

Q:  Why are children at such great risk of getting heat stroke if left in cars?

A: Children are at great risk for heatstroke because a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, the internal organs start to shut down. When it reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.

Q:   Why are we hearing so much about awareness of children suffering heat stroke now?

A: Safe Kids is working with partners around the country to raise awareness about this preventable tragedy. When the Sun is out, and even on cloudy days, the inside of a car can become much hotter than the temperature outside. In just 10 minutes a car can heat up 19 degrees. On an 80 degree day, the inside of a closed car can quickly exceed 100 degrees. Cracking a window does not help keep the inside of a car cool.

Q:  In what ways are children dying of heat stroke, when left in vehicles?

A:  Children die as a result of being left unattended in a vehicle in one of three ways:

  • 52% – child was “forgotten” by caregiver
  • 29% – child was playing in an unattended vehicle and became trapped
  • 18% – child was intentionally left alone

Safe Kids Coalition is working to ensure that no child is left alone in a car, not even for a minute, by participating in an education and awareness program that provides posters and tip sheets at childcare centers, doctor’s offices and hospitals and police and fire stations.

Additional prevention information can be found at, and statistics on child heatstroke deaths can be found at

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