Consumer Advisory: NHTSA Cautions Parents on the Risks of Hyperthermia

| Washington, DC

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Contact: Karen Aldana
Tel: 202-366-9550

With the approach of summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds parents it’s extremely dangerous to leave children alone in cars, especially on hot summer days.

NHTSA research shows the risk of a serious injury or death during hot weather is heightened for children left alone in vehicles. Hyperthermia (heat-stroke) is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of fourteen. NHTSA has found at least 27 documented deaths per year.

Safety tips from NHTSA to prevent hyperthermia include:

  • Never leave infants or children unattended in a vehicle—even if the windows are partly open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
  • Don’t let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area.
  • Ask your childcare center to call you if your child doesn’t arrive on time for childcare.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.
  • Take steps to remember not to leave a child in a vehicle, such as:
    • Write yourself a note and place it where you’ll see it when you leave the vehicle.
    • Place your purse, briefcase or something else you’re sure to need in the back seat so you’ll be sure to see a child left in the vehicle.
    • Keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. Once the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she leaves the vehicle.
  • Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children's reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you see a child left alone in a hot vehicle. When children are in distress due to heat, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible. Warning signs of hyperthermia include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse, a slow weak pulse, nausea or acting strangely. Cool the child rapidly.

For additional safety tips and information on how to keep kids safe in and around vehicles visit