AskPatty Certified Female Friendly Logo

Protect Your Kids from Automotive Hyperthermia

Published Oct 5th 2007, 12:14pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Kidsandcars_logo Kids are back in school and everyone is beginning to get into a new routine for the fall and winter months. Yet, at the same time, young children are being inadvertently forgotten in vehicles and left to perish due to hyperthermia. has documented at least 34 fatal heat deaths so far this year (already more than the 30 deaths that occurred in 2006) with the most recent tragedy taking place last Saturday, September 29 in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Parents: it is NEVER okay to leave children alone in vehicles; heat is just another reason for not doing it. This past summer has been wrought with many high-profile tragedies. In most of these cases the parents involved have been well-educated, loving, and caring people. It is way past time that we all partner together to put an end to these predictable and preventable tragedies. A combination of technology, regulation, legislation, and education can absolutely put an end to these deaths. From 1990-1992, there were only 11 known heatstroke deaths. This is before front airbags became standard equipment in so many cars.

In 1995-1996 the problem with children being killed by passenger side airbags peaked because children were being placed in the front passenger seat. The automakers, NHTSA, parents and safety groups worked together to make sure that children now ride safely in the back seat. In this situation, a combination of technology, regulation, legislation and education almost totally eradicated these deaths, so we know it can be done.

Airbags_vs_hypothermia Now that most young children are riding in the backseat, the incidents of children being forgotten in the backseat (out of sight/out of mind) have increased ten-fold, as demonstrated by 110 fatal heat strokes deaths from 2004-2006. More children have died after being left alone in a hot vehicle than have been killed by passenger-seat airbags. There is an excellent graphic chart at that shows how the elimination of one problem appears to have had the unintended consequence of causing another. The chart is entitled, "Children fatally injured by passenger side airbags verses heat-related deaths." Please keep in mind that IS NOT implying that children should ride in the front seat or that airbags should be disabled. Keep children in the back seat--they are safest there. This is merely a demonstration of how the danger was transferred from the front seat to the back when awareness of front airbags was emphasized. Now we need to move additional awareness into the backseat.

Inside Edition has been working to bring attention to these incidents. They aired a segment on Thursday, October 4, 2007, that included footage from an incident that happened on Monday in Olathe, Kansas.

Inside_edition_logo Inside Edition is a syndicated program that airs at different times all over the country. To find out when it airs in your market, go to, and click on "Where to Watch." Simply input your state, and the site will display the station listings and airtimes for your region. If you missed the program, Inside Edition should be adding it to their web site in the future.


Janette E. Fennell

Visit us at

Need Car Advice?

Ask The Experts!

Looking for a New or Used Car?

Search for our Certified Female Friendly® Car Buying Marketplace locations

Help Our Charities