Donate |

Hot cars: A deadly danger

Last updated: February 2014

On average, 27 children die of heat stroke each year after being left in a hot car. While it may be hard to imagine, many deaths have occurred when over-stressed parents forgot that their children were in the backseat.

These hot-car tragedies often occur when there is a change in driver's routine, stress, or a sleeping baby in the back and a parent or caregiver forgets that a child is in the car. Some knowingly leave children "just for a minute" not realizing how quickly the temperature in a car can rise to dangerous levels. Even if it is only 70 degrees outside, a car can quickly heat to more than 120 degrees. Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Reports' Director of Operations at our Auto Test Center, says that researchers are working on devices such as weight sensors or heartbeat monitors to detect the presence of a child in the backseat, but nothing currently exists to warn the driver that a child has been left behind.

Here are some tips to help avert a heartbreaking catastrophe and make sure no child is left behind in a vehicle.

  • Simple rule: Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, not even for a minute. In addition to being dangerous, it is against the law in many states.
  • Check the car to make sure that all occupants leave the vehicle or are carried out when unloading. If you lock the door with a key, rather than with a remote, it would force that one last look in the car before leaving it.
  • Always lock your car and keep keys and remotes away from children.
  • To serve as a reminder, keep a stuffed animal on the front passenger seat when carrying a child in the backseat.
  • Place something in the backseat that you would need, such as a purse, briefcase or cell phone.
  • Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up.
  • If you see a child alone in a car, especially if they seem hot, call 911 immediately to help get them out.
   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

WEARABLE TECH GUIDE
What you need to know about Google Glass Get all the details on how well this wearable tech works.
EXTERIOR & INTERIOR PAINT REVIEWS
5 common paint problems and how to solve them Our experts can help you get the finest finish on your next painting project.
BACK-TO-SCHOOL GUIDE
How to find the best prices on used college textbooks Students beware: Prices from online sellers aren't always the lowest.
NEW-CAR REVIEWS
Car buying: 10 best late-summer new-model deals We've spotlighted some significant savings on a range of vehicles.
INVESTING GUIDE
Learn how peer-to-peer lending can boost your income Lending Club and Prosper have become an online lending duopoly.
NEW CAR REVIEWS
Cars that are the most fun to drive (and some that aren't)Video Our updated list features vehicles that lead to grin-inducing satisfaction.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more