The heat can kill. When temperatures outside reach 100 degrees, temperatures inside a car can get up to 138 degrees in 5 minutes and 150 degrees in 15 minutes. Here are ideas on how to reduce the risk of forgetting about a child or pet in a hot car.

Experts say it could happen to anyone.

The deaths of 7-month-old Zane Endress and 1-year-old Josiah Riggins — two Arizona children lost within a day of each other after being left in hot cars — have sparked public outrage and accusations of neglect and carelessness. 

Pediatric experts say any parent or caregiver, “even a very loving and attentive one,” can forget a child is in the back seat when busy, distracted or experiencing a change in routine.

On average, nearly 40 U.S. children die in hot cars every year.

Car-related heatstroke can strike with outside temperatures as low as 57 degrees, since the temperature within a car can climb 20 degrees or more in 10 minutes. Young children are more susceptible, because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults’ bodies.

Federal lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require car-makers to equip vehicles with technology to alert drivers if a child is left behind once a vehicle is turned off.

In the meantime, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following strategies to minimize child deaths in hot cars.

Do not leave a small child alone in a car under any circumstances. Not even for a minute. Not even if the car and air conditioning are on. 

Avoid distractions while driving, especially using a cellphone.

Keep your car locked when no one is in it. Some hot-car deaths happen after children climb into unlocked vehicles. Experts say to store car keys out of a child’s reach.

Teach children cars are not play spaces. Keep rear fold-down seats upright to stop kids from crawling into the trunk from inside the car. 

Consider the shoe trick. Leave something in the backseat you can’t leave without, such as a shoe, cellphone or purse. 

Be extra alert when your routine changes, such as when you take a different route or when someone else is driving your child. Ask your child-care provider call if your child is more than 10 minutes late.

If you see a child alone in a backseat, call 911 immediately. The child’s temperature is rising every minute. 

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Larry Subervi talks about the dangers of leaving children or pets unattended in hot vehicles during the summer, even with a window cracked. Sam Caravana/


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