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Fall 2018  Volume 14, Number 3        

child in carseat

Hot-Car Deaths on the Rise

Since 1990, 800 children have died in hot cars. A combination of education, technology and legislation could help prevent these tragedies from happening in the future.

The number of children who have died from heatstroke while left alone in cars has already reached 29 this year, putting 2018 on course to be the deadliest year yet for hot-car deaths, according to child safety advocacy group The average per year has been 37.

To address the problem, legislation with bi-partisan support has been working its way through Congress. The HOT CARS Act would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a final rule requiring cars to be equipped with a system to alert the driver if any passenger remains seated in the back seat when a car has been turned off.

In the meantime, efforts to address the problem are underway by several stakeholders, involving educational, behavioral and technological solutions.


"A lot people assume that if they crack a window they'll lower the temperature in the car," Mike Chesterfield of the Weather Channel told the Wall Street Journal. "But studies have found that it will have very little effect."

To raise awareness of the problem, the Weather Channel and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are working together to alert people to dial 911 if they see a young child alone in a car. The Weather Channel has also introduced its "Scorching Car Scale" to keep the problem top of mind with viewers. According to the Scorching Car Scale, when it’s 86 degrees Fahrenheit in Omaha, for example, after 10 minutes in an unairconditioned car the temperature will rise to 105 degrees, after 30 minutes it will be 120 degrees.


If kids are sleeping or just very quiet, drivers can forget they're even there. That's a big problem. Several child safety advocate groups have suggested that drivers get in the habit of placing in the back seat next to the child’s car seat things like purses, cell phones, wallets and other items they will not want to leave behind as they exit the car.

A variation of this technique has drivers routinely place a stuffed animal, such as a teddy bear, next to them in the front seat as a visual reminder whenever there's a child in the backseat.

Another useful habit to develop is always keeping the car locked with the keys out of reach of little ones. Almost one third of hot-car deaths occur because kids get into cars unsupervised and lock themselves in.


Several automakers are installing gadgets in their cars to alert drivers of a child’s presence. Nissan's Pathfinders and other models now detect when a rear door has been opened and closed before a trip begins; when the trip is completed, a reminder appears on the dashboard; if the door isn't opened, an alarm sounds.

Hyundai is installing motion sensors with a rear-occupant alert system that sounds the horn whenever movement is detected in the back seat up to 24 hours after the car stops.

Some Evenflo and Cybex car seats made since 2015 include sensors on its chest clips synched to the car's ignition system; when the car is turned off, the sensor chimes. The device can also be linked to cellphones to let the cellphone user know if a caregiver has failed to release the child from its seat-belt harness.

The HOT CARs Act

"Since 1990, nearly 800 children have died from heatstroke in vehicles," said Rep. Schakowsky (D-9th IL). "My colleagues Rep. Tim Ryan, Rep. Peter King and I are introducing the HOT CARS Act today in hopes of bringing that number down to zero. Even the most attentive parent can get distracted and forget a child in the back seat of their car. To prevent these tragedies, our bill would require all new vehicles to be equipped with an alert system to remind the driver to check the back seat. A simple alert can save lives."

"The belief is that it can’t happen to you, always someone else. Unfortunately it happens over and over again, even to the most conscientious parents. Technology is available and it can be placed in new vehicles to protect innocent children. It's really that simple. I am proud to work with Reps. Ryan and Schakowsky on this legislation," said Rep. King (R-2nd NY).

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In this issue:

This Just In...

Hot-Car Deaths on the Rise

How to Make an Insurance Claim

Is Your Home Ready for Windstorm Season?

What Is a Mortgage or Lenders Loss Payable Endorsement?



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