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Chicago Children Face Risk of Death in Hot Cars

July 23, 2014

Summer is the season when the weather gets warmer and when tragic stories hit the news about kids who have died in hot cars. To prevent fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched the “Look Before You Lock” campaign. This campaign will run during the height of the summer season.

Parents are at risk of leaving children in hot cars either intentionally for a few minutes while they run errands or by mistake when they forget their children are in the car. However, parents are not the only ones who could make this fatal mistake. Daycare centers, camps, and other caregivers during the summer have also left kids in buses or on vans with fatal results. If your child is killed or injured because of heatstroke in a hot car, you need to consult with a personal injury lawyer for help.

Death Can Occur Quickly in Hot Cars

In 2013, at least 44 children in the United States were killed after being left unattended in a hot vehicle. An unknown number of other kids suffered injury when they too were trapped inside of a car that got too hot. This is well over the average. Since 1998, the average number of heatstroke fatalities among children was 38 per year. In 2014, there have already been several deaths reported and the NHTSA describes this as a “disturbing trend.”

One problem is that parents and caregivers may underestimate the amount of time it takes for a child to be injured or killed after being left in a hot car. Even with a window that is rolled down two inches, the inside of a vehicle could reach a deadly temperature within minutes. This means parents should not ever leave their kids inside of the car even if they just have to run into a store or bank for a minute. Instead, parents need to either bring their kids in the store with them or need to use a drive-thru so their kids are not left alone.

With studies showing that around 14 percent of parents have left their kids inside of a parked vehicle alone, clearly this behavior needs to change. Dads are about three times as likely as moms to leave children alone in parked vehicles, with 23 percent of dads and eight percent of moms admitting to this behavior.

Some parents leave their children in vehicles accidentally because they forget that their kids are in the car. For example, if a parent doesn’t usually take his son or daughter to daycare but had to on a particular morning, the parent may simply forget that the child is in the vehicle. It is this type of mistake that the NHTSA “Look Before You Lock” campaign is trying to prevent. The campaign urges parents to get into the habit of checking the front and the back seats every single time they get out of a vehicle before locking the car doors.

Finally, there are situations where children get into cars on their own because they want to play in vehicles and then become trapped inside. To avoid this, teach kids that cars are not toys and leave your car locked and the keys where your kids cannot reach them.

A personal injury attorney can help after an injury. Call Coplan + Crane at 800-394-6002 or visit to schedule your free consultation.