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First Hot Car Death of 2021 Confirmed. How Can We Prevent These Tragic Incidents?

— May 3, 2021

The first hot car death of the year was announced last week, sparking a new sense of urgency to implement technology and raise awareness to help prevent these deaths in the future.

With the weather warming up, it’s important to remember to take safety precautions when traveling with small children to help prevent hot car deaths. Believe it or not, these tragic incidents still happen today, and a lot more often than one might think. In fact, just last week the first hot car-related death of 2021 happened when a 5-month-old baby girl in North Carolina was found dead in her family’s car. According to the autopsy report, the cause of death was “environmental hyperthermia which is consistent with statements provided by the mother.”

Image of a Warning Sign
Warning Sign; image courtesy of Peter-Lomas via Pixabay,

It’s important to note that National Heatstroke Prevention Day was just last week, and knowing that these fatal incidents can happen anywhere and to anyone, it’s important to raise awareness of the dangers of hot cars. Fortunately, there are new technologies, campaigns, and organizations coming forward to fight against these tragic incidents. 

For example, “Kids and Car Safety is emphasizing that there are technological solutions to put an end to the devastation seen every year of children and animals dying excruciating deaths in hot cars.” Janette Fennell, president of Kids and Cars Safety, said:

“After more than 20 years of public education, the number of children dying in hot cars has gotten worse, not better…The years 2018 and 2019 were the worst in history with a total of over 100 children that died in hot cars nationwide.”

Announcing that technological solutions exist is one thing, getting them implemented is another. The Hot Cars Act aims to require “technology that can detect the presence of a child in all new vehicles to prevent hot car injury and death.” It’s a federal bill that will be reintroduced in the coming weeks, though the technology is “readily available and affordable.

Amber Rollins, Director of Kids and Car Safety, said:

“The only thing more tragic than a child or animal dying in a hot car is knowing that there are solutions that exist that could prevent this. By not utilizing available technology to sense a child or pet alone inside a vehicle, we are shamefully allowing this to happen over and over again. The price of inaction is the life of children and that is unacceptable.”

One thing to remember about hot car deaths is they can happen to anyone. To prevent such a tragic thing from happening to your family, there are a few things you can do to make sure you never leave your child alone in the car, including:

  • Put the diaper bag or child’s backpack in the front passenger seat. This will serve as a visual cue that the child is in the car. 
  • Get in the habit of opening the back door each time you park to make sure no one is left in the vehicle. 
  • Communicate with other present adults to confirm who will get the child out of the car. 
  • Make sure your child can’t sneak into your parked vehicle. Keep the doors locked at all times and never leave the keys within reach of children. 


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