More children died in hot cars in the United States in 2018 than any other year on record, according to Janette Wheat, Ph.D, at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


These deaths occurred during all months of the year and in all but three states in the U.S., said Wheat, associate professor and Cooperative Extension Program human development specialist.


“Sadly, 24 percent happened in employer parking lots while the parent or caregiver was at work,” she said in a news release. “Although unthinkable, it can happen to anyone. Often it happens when parents or caregivers are especially busy or tired, or a change in their regular routine occurs, all circumstances which increase the risk of a potential fatal mistake.”


According to data from No Heat Stroke Org in 2018, circumstances resulting in pediatric vehicular heatstroke of children include: forgotten, 53.8 percent; gained access, 26.3 percent; knowingly left, 18.6 percent and unknown, 1.3 percent.


In 2019, at least seven children have died from vehicular heatstroke.


“Parents, caregivers and early childhood educators can act immediately to prevent this tragedy,” Wheat said.


The National Safety Council has a free interactive online training course, Children in Hot Cars, which provides vital information about the dangers of vehicular heatstroke, the three common circumstances that lead to children dying and what everyone can do to prevent these deaths. The training includes free resources to share.


“By sharing this training in their classrooms, early childhood educators will be helping to ensure creating healthy and sustainable families across the nation,” according to the release.


Wheat encourages parents and caregivers of children to complete the training. A certificate is provided at the end of the training. Details: nsc.org/hotcars.


The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.


— Carol Sanders is a writer/editor with the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.