The Sobering Reality of Hot Car Deaths

Forty children have died in hot cars so far this year, the third straight year it's reached that awful mark, according to, an organization that closely monitors these incidents.

CR analyzed the details surrounding those fatalities, as well as the deaths of 53 kids in 2018. The victims have been as young as 1 month old and as old as a 13-year-old special-needs child.

They’ve died all over the country, either knowingly or unknowingly left behind by family members or caregivers. And they’ve died in all four seasons.

What are the common factors among these deaths, and what can the details tell us about who is at risk?

By far, the biggest factor is parents and caregivers who unknowingly leave a child behind in a car. Of the cases reported in 2018 and 2019, 44 (where circumstances are known) involve someone unknowingly leaving a child behind. The reasons for that include everything from a disrupted routine—a very common explanation—to family members thinking someone else had brought the baby inside at the end of a trip.

In 11 of these cases, not all of the details surrounding the incident are known.

There are other findings from the data, as of Sept. 9:

    69 of the victims were 2 years old or younger.

    The average age of the victims was 23 months old.

    The recorded high temperatures on the days when these events occurred ranged from 69 degrees to 108 degrees.

    They happened in 27 states, from as far south as Florida to as far north as Montana.

    Texas led all states with 10 deaths, followed by Florida with nine and South Carolina with eight.
    In 75 cases, it was a parent, grandparent, or another family member who was responsible for the incident; daycare workers were involved in three cases.

For those who say they’d never leave their child in a car, be aware: It happens to all types of people.

According to the website, caregivers involved in these incidents come from many walks of life. They include teachers, dentists, social workers, law enforcement, nurses, clergymen, military officers, and even a rocket scientist. These tragic cases can happen to anyone, regardless of their education or socioeconomic status.


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