Hot Cars and How to Protect Your Kids

It's easy to forget how hot it can get inside of a car, especially in summer. Leaving children in intense heat - even for a few minutes - can lead to heat stroke, causing serious brain damage and death. Though many states have laws about keeping kids in cars safe, this important job is up to parents and caregivers.

Child sweating in hot car

    Steps For Prevention

    • When you get out of the vehicle, make sure all children leave the vehicle too, even if you're only stopping for a minute.
    • Don't ever let kids play in parked cars or garages.
    • Lock your car doors and trunk so that kids can't get in on their own. Keep keys out of reach.
    • Communicate clearly with others. Don't assume someone else is taking the kids out of the car.
    • Have your babysitter or day care call you if your child isn't dropped off that day.
    • Be calm, careful and conscious. Mistakes happen when people are tired or distracted. Do not zone out, and pay close attention to small changes in your daily routine.

    To Help You Remember When Your Child Is With You...

    • Always check the backseat before you get out of the car. Parents and caregivers can forget they have the baby in the backseat, especially if the child is quiet or has fallen asleep.
    • Place your baby in a front-facing car seat where you can see his/her face in your rearview mirror.
    • Put things you will need at your destination, like purses or phones, in the backseat.
    • Put the child's diaper bag or teddy bear in the front seat with you.
    • Talk out loud to your baby while you are in the car together.

    And Don't Forget...

    • Leaving the windows down or the air conditioning on is NOT enough to keep your child's body at a safe temperature for long.
    • Your babysitter or child's caregiver needs to know and follow these guidelines.
    • If you see a child left alone in a hot car, call 911 immediately.

    For More Information

    The Administration for Children and Families has teamed up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Safe Kids USA for the Look Before You Lock campaign which includes a website with free downloads so you can get involved.

    Here are other valuable websites to help you keep your kids safe in the car:

    The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has compiled free downloadable tips and resources on hot car safety for your kids in English and Spanish. Download and print these colorful tip sheets from our Parent Resource Library: