In September 2004, a 22-month-old boy climbed into an unlocked, parked car. The boy’s mother left for work, thinking he was playing next door. The outside temperature was 86 degrees, and the child died of hyperthermia.
Incidents of heat-related death of young children in parked vehicles are not isolated events, and occur throughout the warm months each year in the United States. “Heat-Related Deaths to Young Children in Parked Cars: An Analysis of 171 Fatalities-U.S., 1995-2002” by Anara Guard and Susan Scavo Gallagher was published in February 2005 in the journal Injury Prevention. Their analysis showed that more than a quarter of the adults who left children in cars were aware that they were leaving the children, while half were unaware or forgot. Nearly one-fifth of the children were left by child care providers, drivers, or babysitters, most of whom were formal or licensed providers.
EDC’s research has been cited in a segment on ABC’s Good Morning America and in articles appearing in The Atlanta Journal, San Antonio Express, The Huntsville [Alabama] Times, and other media outlets in areas where incidents had occurred.
Originally published on August 31, 2005