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Child Safety

Save Lives: Join the Heatstroke Awareness Challenge

Since 1998, 769 U.S. children have died of heatstroke in hot cars. You can take action to help prevent more tragedies. Learn the facts about heatstroke and spread your knowledge via social media during NHTSA’s Heatstroke Awareness Challenge.

First, know the facts: Heatstroke isn’t about irresponsible people intentionally leaving children in cars; the vast majority of cases occur when a child is mistakenly left or gets into a vehicle unattended and becomes trapped. Don’t believe that it can’t happen to you. This year’s 21st  heatstroke death, on July 7, in Sacramento, California, was representative of how these tragedies occur. Since that incident, eight more children have died.

Parents and other caregivers must also understand when and how quickly heatstroke can happen. It doesn’t need to be a hot day; when the temperature outside is as low as 60 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 110 degrees. If a child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child will die.

Now, take action: We’re asking everyone — the public, our coworkers at DOT and NHTSA, and all of our friends and safety partners — to participate in the Heatstroke Awareness Challenge. To be a part of this lifesaving campaign:

  • Create a 15-to-30 second video about the dangers of heatstroke;
  • Share your video on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram;
  • Use the hashtag #heatstrokekills and tag @NHTSAgov to amplify the message.

On July 31 — Heatstroke Awareness Day — all of NHTSA’s social media channels will be dedicated to spreading the word. With every tweet, and each Instagram and Facebook post, we’ll fight heatstroke and hopefully save lives. We’ve got tons of fact sheets, videos, graphics, and other material that you can download and share to make sure your followers get the message: Heatstroke kills, but we can all work to prevent it. Read and share these tips to protect children from heatstroke:

Look Before You Lock. Get into the routine of always checking the back seat of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.

A Gentle Reminder. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place your phone, briefcase, or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.

A Routine Check. If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.

A Key to Safety. Keep your vehicle locked and keep your keys out of reach; nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.

Act Fast to Save a Life. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911. Chances are the child was left by accident. If the child appears in distress or is non-responsive, remove the child from the vehicle and spray the child with cool water.

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of so many heatstroke tragedies. But the simple act of posting your Heatstroke Awareness Challenge video could reach the family member, friend or neighbor who needs to hear this message — and even save a young life. You have that power — use it by taking part in NHTSA’s Heatstroke Awareness Challenge.