Open Accessibility Menu

Children in Hot Cars: Dangers of Heatstroke

  • Category: Newsroom
  • Posted On:

Grand Forks, N.D. — What can start out as a bright and sunny day for some families, ends in tragedy for over 40 children in the United States each year because of heatstroke deaths that have occurred in cars. That is one death nearly every nine days. Heatstroke deaths in cars, while more common in the warm summer months, have happened every single month of the year across the United States.

While most heatstroke deaths in vehicles occur because of a parent or caregiver forgetting their child in the back seat, they also happen when children find their way into a vehicle and cannot get out. Temperatures inside a vehicle can climb forty to fifty degrees hotter than outside temperatures, so even on a sunny and seventy-degree day, the temperature inside a car can get to be upwards of 120-130 degrees in a very short amount of time. Cracking the window has little effect on the internal temperature and most of the increase in temperature occurs in the first few minutes.

Unfortunately, children’s bodies overheat three to five times faster than an adult. Children under age three are most often the victims of this type of incident. They often occur when the parents or caregiver has a lack of sleep or has a change in routines, such as taking a different route to work or a change in who is dropping off and picking up the child. Anyone who has a young child knows they need to be placed in the back seat. Kids often fall asleep when they are in their car seat and the vehicle is in motion. If the driver gets distracted or goes on “autopilot,” in their minds they have made the drop off when, in fact, they have not.

Safe Kids Grand Forks offers tips to prevent these types of tragedies and want all parents and caregivers to understand this could happen to them. When one develops the mentality that “I am a good parent and I would never forget my child,” we become complacent and often don’t take the steps that could prevent an incident such as this. Here are ways to keep your children safe from heatstroke dangers – A.C.T.

A: Avoid Heatstroke

  • Keep car doors locked at all times when the car is not in use. Ask anyone staying with you to do the same.
  • Never leave your child alone in the car, not even for a minute.

C: Create Reminders

  • Put something in the back seat you will need for work such as a laptop, cellphone, purse or even your left shoe.
  • Ask your daycare provider to call you if your child is not dropped off by their normal time.
  • Make it clear who is taking the child out of the car or dropping off at daycare each day.

T: Take Action

  • Call 911 if you see a child left in a car without an adult present. Children can go from being fine to being in danger of heatstroke very quickly.

For more information about the dangers of heatstroke in children, contact Carma Hanson ( or Jasmine Wanger ( at Safe Kids Grand Forks.


About Safe Kids Grand Forks
Safe Kids Grand Forks is a region-wide coalition whose mission is to prevent unintentional injuries and death to children and youth 19 years of age and younger. Safe Kids has built a vast coalition of health care providers, government and community agencies, schools, churches, businesses and individuals that work together in a collaborative nature to keep the children of our region safe from their number one cause of death - unintentional injury. Our efforts are multi-faceted and comprehensive in order to maximize the number of children and families we reach with our injury prevention message and to assure that they are effective. We base the development and implementation of programs on the five E's of injury prevention - education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement and evaluation.

Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead organization for Safe Kids Grand Forks.