As Temperatures Rise, Dayton Children’s Reminds the Community to Never Leave a Child Alone in the Car

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This week, two children have died nationwide after being left alone in a hot car. The experts at Dayton Children's Hospital want to remind parents and caregivers to never leave a child alone in a car and to take precautions to ensure it never happens to you.

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As parents, we have to be willing to admit that this could happen to us and take precautions to ensure that it does not."

As temperatures continue to rise in the Miami Valley, Dayton Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Dayton want to remind families to never leave a child alone in the car. This week there have been two deaths related to children left alone in a car. First a 9-month-old died from hyperthermia (also known as heatstroke) in Florida after being left in a truck for hours. Next, a 22-month-old died in an SUV in Georgia.

While many parents think this could never happen to them and they wonder how this could possibly happen, it actually happens more than you would think. Every 10 days in the United States a child dies when left alone in a hot car. This death in Florida is the 13th death this year nationwide and since 1998 more than 600 children have died as a result of hyperthermia.

“These tragedies are absolutely heartbreaking, and a reminder for all of us to be aware of the dangers of leaving a child alone in a car,” says Jessica Saunders, community relations manager and Safe Kids Greater Dayton Coordinator. “As parents we have to be willing to admit that this could happen to us and take precautions to ensure that it does not.”

Many people are shocked to learn how hot the inside of a car can actually get. And cracking the window doesn’t help. That’s why Dayton Children’s and Safe Kids Greater Dayton is asking everyone to help protect kids from this preventable tragedy by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Bystanders can also help by calling 911 if they see a child alone in a car.

It doesn’t have to be the middle of the summer for a child to get overheated. Even with seemingly mild temperatures outside, the temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, making them more susceptible to heatstroke.    

“Heatstroke occurs which the body loses its ability to regulate its own temperature,” says Patricia Abboud, MD, pediatric intensivist at Dayton Children’s and a member of the Dayton Children’s Dr. Mom Squad. “If left untreated, body temperature can soar to 106º F (41.1º C) or even higher, leading to brain damage or even death. Prompt medical treatment is essential to bring the body temperature under control.”

To help prevent these tragedies, Safe Kids Worldwide, with the support of the General Motors Foundation, created Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car (NLYCAC) as part of its Buckle Up program, a national initiative established 17 years ago to keep children and families safe in and around cars.

Together, we can reduce the number of heatstroke deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT.

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.

C: Create reminders by putting something on the backseat of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Additional prevention information can be found at, and statistics on child heatstroke deaths can be found at

About Dayton Children’s
One of only 45 independent freestanding children’s hospitals in the country, Dayton Children’s is the region’s only medical facility dedicated to children. Accredited by The Joint Commission and serving 20 Ohio counties and eastern Indiana, the experts at Dayton Children’s care for more than 290,000 children each year. Consistently recognized as one of the country’s best and most cost-effective pediatric hospitals, Dayton Children’s is home to the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and together with the United States Air Force shares the nation’s only civilian-military integrated pe¬diatric training program.

About Safe Kids Greater Dayton
Safe Kids Greater Dayton works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children. Safe Kids Greater Dayton is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing unintentional injury, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost 1 million children die of injuries each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids Greater Dayton is led by Dayton Children’s Hospital.

About the General Motors Foundation and Safe Kids Buckle Up
Beginning in 1997, General Motors and the GM Foundation have served as Safe Kids Worldwide’s exclusive funding source for its Buckle Up program, a multifaceted national initiative, bringing motor vehicle safety messages to children and families through community and dealer partnerships. To date, more than 22.5 million people have been exposed to Safe Kids Worldwide events and community outreach efforts. Certified child passenger safety technicians working through Safe Kids coalitions have examined over 1.65 million child safety seats at over 85,000 events, and the program has donated over 600,000 seats to families in need.

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