Baby asleep in a hot car.

Distractions to Blame for Many Hot Car Deaths

What can you do to help prevent these tragedies?

Child safety is critical regardless of how many children you have – or if you have no children at all – because children light up our lives and represent our future.  And in today’s world, safety has many layers. Protecting children can even mean double-checking yourself and your habits whenever you’re with children.

The news is filled with child-centric tragedies. Recently, a dozen children were left unattended in an Orlando swimming pool. A 9-year-old noticed her 3-year-old cousin floating lifelessly in the pool and dragged her to poolside. A teen-ager heard the commotion and ran over to help – performing life-savings CPR on the 3-year-old. After the incident was over with, a parent was finally located.

Even more recently, a 2-year-old was pulled away from parents by an alligator in a Florida pond. Both parents tried to save the child who had gotten into shallow water but were not able to overcome the gator’s grip.

These types of tragedies are never easy and no child can be watched 100% of the time. When a one in a million accident occurs or – in the Florida alligator case a 1 in 2.4 million – it is unfair and inhumane to place the blame with the parents. But what about a more common tragedy, one we hear about every summer – deaths in hot cars?


There is a very disturbing trend this year that has the number of hot car deaths in the United States rising at a scary rate. Deaths of children left in a hot car this year are almost triple the number for the same period of time in 2015 according to the National Safety Council. And it isn’t even officially summer yet. Unfortunately, many pets are left in cars as well.

Why the increase and more importantly is there anything that can be done to minimize the risk? How can you help protect the children in your care even when they are not there? After reviewing interviews with parents of these children, the National Safety Council notes that the trend seems to be distraction as the reason for “forgetting” the child is in the car.

And while you wouldn’t think that anything could distract a parent enough to forget about their child, statistics show that it is happening at astoundingly alarming rates. Simply do a Google search and you’ll see the evidence – or just wait until the evening news reports on another tragedy.

We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before. A man on trial for the death of his 22-month-old son who he forgot was in his car when he went to work on June 18, 2014. Seven hours later the child was found dead in the car.

Seven hours. That’s a long time for the temperature to heat up inside of a car. Is there anything that could help tragedies like this never to happen – or even for mistakes to be discovered quickly enough to prevent tragedy?

There are some actions that may help to ensure that distractions don’t endanger the children coming into your facility:

  1. Encourage parents to always put an item in the backseat that they’ll need at their final destination. Retrieve the item, see the child. People have even been known to leave one of their shoes in the backseat as insurance!
  1. Double check on your facility’s children using the Absences Report:
    • Be strict about your notification of absence policies. You’re not just being picky – it’s a matter of safety! Your organization’s parents should notify you each time their child will be absent.
    • Check each day’s absences using Jackrabbit’s Absences-Makeups Report. Any unconfirmed absences should be immediately checked with parents.

attendance JR 1

The new Staff Portal makes it easy to keep up to the minute attendance records! Not using the Staff Portal for attendance yet? Our built in Guided Setup will make getting started a breeze.

attendance JR 2

These ideas may not sound earth shattering, but something as simple as checking up on absences could help parents make sure their children are where they are supposed to be and could save precious minutes if a child has been left in a car instead of being dropped off for class.

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