CONSUMER REPORTS — It’s a surprising and sad statistic reported year after year: On average, it’s estimated that 38 children die in hot cars each year.
“Children’s bodies can’t efficiently regulate their temperature, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, their bodies can heat up three to five times faster than adults,” said Emily Thomas PhD, Consumer Reports.
Simply put: It’s never safe to leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even if it doesn’t feel particularly warm, you’re parked in the shade, or you’ve cracked a window.
And soon new technology could remind parents if they leave behind a child or pet in the car. Federal regulators cleared the way for car manufacturers to install highly sensitive in-car radar systems that can monitor for children left in the car, and alert the driver to take action.
“This new technology has the potential to save lives by not just reminding parents to check the backseat, but actually detecting an occupant. But it will be a long time before we see it in every car. So, it’s important to remain vigilant about the ongoing danger of children and pets dying in hot cars,” Thomas said.
Some cars are already equipped with systems that can remind drivers to check the backseat, but those systems don’t account for every scenario, which is why it’s important for parents to always remember to check the backseat.
“You should create a habit of putting a personal item, like your phone or laptop bag, in the back seat, even if your child is not with you. Doing this will force you to visit the backseat after every trip,” said Thomas
It can also help to put one of your child’s items in the front seat, like their backpack or jacket. Set up an agreement with daycares or preschools to give you a call if your child doesn’t arrive on a day they’re expected to. And if you see a child in a locked car, call 911 to get them out immediately.