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Automobiles, Children & Heat: Summer’s Dangerous Combination

Your Child and Your Car

It’s a no-brainer, right? You buckle your child into the backseat car seat when you leave; you unbuckle your child and take him/her out when you arrive.

But according to the San Jose State University’s Department of Meteorology & Climate Science, simple practice doesn’t always fall into place. In fact, since 1998, the median number of children who died from heatstroke after being left behind in a vehicle was 37.

Related: Why NJ auto insurance companies say never leave dogs in car

Heatstroke: What is it?

Heatstroke occurs when human temperature rises beyond 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heatstroke symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Sluggishness
  • Seizure
  • Flushed, dry and hot skin
  • Unconsciousness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Deliria

Once body temperature reaches 107 degrees, cells begin to damage and organs shut down, leading to rapid death.  And because a child’s thermoregulatory structure does not work as efficiently as that of an adult, a child’s temperature heats up 3-5 times faster.

“Leaving a Child in a Car? Could Never Happen to Me.”

It’s nice to believe tragic accidents can only visit others. The frightening reality is that humans are prone to forgetfulness and error.  Due to a change in routine or some other variable, can you say for sure you’d not be susceptible to overlooking a child who’s quietly strapped in the vehicle’s rear?

My name is Mary and I live in Barnegat, NJ. It was a hot muggy day in mid-August when the unthinkable occurred. After placing my beloved little Jake in the car seat, I hopped in behind the steering wheel. Accustomed to having my husband take our child to the sitter, I soon forgot about my precious cargo and just drove to work. Without giving a backward glance, I exited and hurried into the office building. About twenty minutes later, while sending an email to a customer, something uncomfortable registered in my mind. JAKE! Oh my, Jake! I raced into the company parking lot and managed to extract my limp child. Rushing into the building with Jake in my trembling arms, I screamed for help. When the EMS guys arrived, they found me by the water cooler, pouring the lifesaving liquid onto Jake’s head and face. Thank goodness, Jake had been revived. From the grim narrative of the emergency workers, I know I was a lucky, an exception to a heartbreaking rule…"        

70 or 80 degree weather might seem pleasant enough outdoors; inside a parked car, however, the temperature can dangerously increase. Experts say it takes just 10 minutes for the temperature inside of a car to escalate by 19 degrees, 20 minutes to rise by 29 degrees, 30 minutes to 34 degrees, 1 hour to 43 degrees and 1 to 2 hours to 45 to 50 degrees.

Read more at:

 Statistics in the U.S.

  • In 2015, 13 children died from heatstroke after being left alone in a vehicle
  • In 2014, 32 children died from heatstroke in the U.S after being left alone in a vehicle
  • From 1998 until August of 2015, 650 children died from heatstroke after being left alone in a vehicle

What You Can Do

The first thing is to admit is that no one is infallible. Once you have established that terrible events can happen to anyone, you will be receptive to take important preventive measures.

. These can include:

  • Maintaining a contact plan, wherein your caregiver or school office calls you if your child does not show up
  • Keeping a doll or a stuffed toy in your child’s car seat when he or she is not placed in it and having the toy kept next to you as a reminder when you child is in back
  • Keeping your pocketbook, bag or cell phone in the back seat next to your child so you’ll automatically grab for it when you leave
  • Installing a child-safety mirror that lets you see your child’s reflection at all times

PRIME Insurance and Family Safety

As a proud NJ community member and a family-run business successfully dealing with all types of insurance, PRIME Insurance promotes related family safety, as well as coverage information. Visit us online at our insurance website or contact us at 732-886-5751 or PRIME [at] primeins [dot] com to become an educated consumer and HAVE A PRIME DAY!



The statistics don’t lie. As human beings, we are not immune to forgetfulness. It’s your responsibility to ensure your child is removed from the real danger of a hot car. Follow PRIME Insurance’s quick tips and prevent tragedy!


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