Deaths of Children Left in Hot Cars Hit Grim Record

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers

rear facing car seat

Credit: AJ Mast, AP Images

Rear-facing child safety seats are a problem. With children out of sight, they are sometimes out of mind; parents forget there's a baby on board.

We wonder, how could they forget something like that?

But, it happens. The Detroit Free Press reports that 49 children in the United States died of heatstroke last year after being left in hot cars. That's a new -- if grim -- record.

Child-welfare advocates tell the Free Press that some of those deaths are the result of parents forgetting that they have a baby in a rear-facing safety seat -- not that rear-facing safety seats are a bad idea, they say. It's just that they require parents to be more aware.

More than half of the parents of the some 500 children who have died in hot cars between 1998 and 2010 admit later that they forgot their children were there, according to the Free Press. Five children have died so far this year, the paper reports, including three in May in southern states.

"They think of the people this happened to as monsters, and they don't put in place the safeguards you should," Janette Fennell of Kids and Cars tells the Free Press. "If you have the ability to forget your cell phone, you can forget your child."

Kids and Cars, a Kansas-based nonprofit organization has become a national leader in child car safety. The group is printing "Look Before You Lock" warning tags that will go into take-home kits that hospitals give new mothers.

In addition, Safe Kids USA just launched a "Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car" campaign.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.