• Post last modified:October 5, 2020
  • Post category:Insurance

More than 110 children have died due to heatstroke between 2011 and 2013.  In the summer months, the dangers of hot cars shoot up.  The temperature inside cars increases quickly; on a 70℉ day, the temperature inside the car would be 89℉ after ten minutes, 104℉ after half an hour and 120℉ after two hours.

Heat stroke occurs when the victim’s body temperature increases beyond 104℉, overwhelming the brain’s temperature control.  Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, confusion, sluggishness, and agitation.  It can cause loss of consciousness and even death. Children are especially susceptible to heat stroke, but they are not the only ones affected by hot cars.  Many pets are left in cars during the summer while their owners run errands and hot cars are just as dangerous for them.

You may think that you would never forget your pet or child in the car, however, your brain is programmed to put you on autopilot when you perform routine tasks.  This function is extremely helpful in many ways; we wouldn’t be able to accomplish much if we had to think about how to breath, keep our hearts beating and do other every day actions.  However, this function can be dangerous because it can cause us to forget things that are not a part of our normal routine.  For example, in the morning you may realize that you need to pick up firewood for a get together that night but completely forget when you drive home.  Forgetting your firewood may be annoying, but it is not dangerous like forgetting children or pets is.  It is important to find ways to remind yourself that you have children or pets in the car.


Here are some tips to keep your passengers safe this summer.


  1. No errand is “short enough” – Always bring your passengers in with you, even if you think that your errand will be short.  Car temperatures increase quickly so even a short time in the car can be devastating for small children and pets.  In addition, you never know what might happen to slow you down and you don’t want your passengers to get stuck in the car for longer than intended.
  2. Put a reminder in the front seat – Remind yourself that there is someone else in the car by putting your child’s or pet’s toy or bag in the front seat.  The visual reminder will override your brain’s “autopilot” and keep you from forgetting.  Other good ways to remind yourself of your passenger are to put your pet or child in the middle of the back seat rather than behind the driver’s seat so that you can see them or placing something  you need (such as a cellphone or briefcase) beside them so that you will have to check the backseat before leaving the car.
  3. Make checking part of your routine – Check the backseat of your car every time you leave your car even if you don’t have your child or pet with you.  This will create a habit of checking which could save your loved one when they are with you.
  4. Communicate – Set up a plan with your caregivers.  Let them know that you will call them if you won’t be dropping off your child or pet and ask them to call you if your child or pet does not arrive as expected.  This way you will have a reminder if your loved one has been left in the car.
  5. Be aware of new routines – If  you have just changed your routine and are not used to having your child or pet in the car, be more careful than usual.  This is the time that you will be most likely to forget your loved one in the car, so it is a good idea to set up extra reminders.  Try putting a note on your desk or in your car or setting a reminder in your cellphone.

Don’t let your child or pet become part of a statistic!  Keep them with you this summer rather than leaving them in the car.