HARTFORD, CT (June 7, 2021) - As COVID-related restrictions ease across Connecticut, AAA is warning parents and caregivers that some pre-pandemic behaviors present an increased risk to children. Specifically, as temperatures soar, AAA notes that half as many children died in hot cars last year as compared to the ‘normal’ years prior.
According to KidsinCars.org, 25 children died in hot cars last year, as compared to 53 who died in 2019 and a record 54 children who died in hot cars in 2018.
“We know that, historically, one of the greatest contributing factors to children being forgotten in cars is a change in routine. Some schools are calling for early dismissals because of the heat which will no doubt disrupt work routines and childcare routines many have become accustomed to as COVID restrictions ease,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “It is critical that parents and caregivers be aware of the increased risk.”
Heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children under the age of 14, with an average of 38 fatalities per year since 1998.
Tragically, at least one child, a five-month old, has already died from hyperthermia this year. Police in North Carolina say the victim was left in the car by her mother.
“Even if it is not extremely hot outside, it can get extremely hot inside the vehicle – and deadly - in just a matter of minutes,” Parmenter adds.
Look Before You Lock
AAA has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind parents and caregivers to “look before you lock.” The deaths of children in hot cars is often because they’ve been forgotten.
In the past two decades, 883 children left in vehicles have died of heatstroke, hyperthermia, or other complications. In Connecticut, 4 children have died in hot cars.
Studies have shown about 51 percent of child hot car deaths in vehicles were caused by adults forgetting the children and 29 percent of victims were playing in an unattended vehicle.
AAA Urges Motorists To ACT:
- A—Avoid heatstroke by never leaving a child in the car alone, not even for a minute.
- C—Create electronic reminders or put something in the backseat you need when exiting the car - for example, a cell phone, purse, wallet, briefcase or shoes. Always lock your car and never leave car keys or car remote where children can get to them.
- T—Take action and immediately call 9-1-1- if you notice a child unattended in a car.