Most Child Deaths from Vehicular Heat Stroke Happen in Louisiana

When the weather is warm outside, getting into your car for the first time can feel especially hot. Your car could be up to 50 degrees hotter inside than it is outside. The interior temperature of a car can get up to a whopping 150℉, depending on the day.

Now imagine how dangerous this would be for a child left alone in a hot car. 

Every year in the U.S., 37 children die from vehicular heat stroke, a completely preventable tragedy. “It’s just a devastating situation, and it can happen so quickly,” said Ashley Moran, a spokesperson for the Acadiana Transportation Safety Coalition. She said vehicular heat stroke could happen in as little as 15 minutes.

And what’s worse is that Louisiana leads the nation in the most child deaths from being left in vehicles. In the last 26 years, 36 children in Louisiana have died from heat stroke after being in a hot car. On a per capita basis, that’s the highest number of deaths in any state. All 36 of those deaths could have been avoided. 

“Most of the time these cases happen in families where, you know, everybody is doing everything right. Parents are well educated, all these kinds of things,” Moran added. “They’ll just have one day where their routine will be off and that day will just, you know, obviously devastate their lives.” 

So, how does this kind of accident happen? 

Kids are Left in Cars More Often Than You Think

Since 1998, over 970 children have died because of heat stroke in hot cars. Young children are among the most likely to get heat strokes because their central nervous systems are not fully developed yet. This makes it harder for their body to adjust to rapid changes in temperature (death can occur when a child’s body temperature reaches 107℉) like when a car heats up inside.

Believe it or not, kids get left in cars more often than you might think. It usually happens on accident because someone forgets to take the child out of the car. It can also happen if a child is able to get into the car on their own and can’t figure out how to get back out, or if they are knowingly left in cars. Here’s how the common reasons kids are left in hot cars stack up:

  • 52%: someone forgetting to take their kid out of the car
  • 25%: children got access to a car and didn’t know how to get out
  • 21%: someone knowingly left a child in a car
  • 2%: unknown reasons

It’s important to remember that even on mild or cloudy days, it can still get really hot inside of a vehicle. You can’t prevent accidents like this by simply keeping the windows rolled down. Children should never be left unattended in a vehicle.

Ways to Keep Your Child Safe From Heat Stroke

The months when the most heat stroke deaths happen are June, July, and August, when the average maximum temperatures range from 90 to 99 degrees. This summer, take a free online course from the National Safety Council to educate yourself on the dangers of leaving kids in hot cars. 

Here are some additional tips to keep your child safe:

  • The main thing you can do to prevent pediatric vehicular heat stroke is to never leave children unattended in vehicles, not even for a minute! 
  • Keep your car locked and the keys out of reach so that children can’t get in by themselves.
  • Put something next to your child, like a purse or one of their toys so that you have to take one last glance. 
  • Create reminders on your phone to always check the backseat, and to make sure your child is dropped off at daycare (or whatever your daily routine is).  
  • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a vehicle. 

If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.