Florida Ranks Second in the Nation for Child Hot Car Deaths | Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers Whittel & Melton


Child hot car deaths occur when children are left unattended in vehicles, where temperatures can rise to lethal levels within minutes. According to data from KidsAndCars.org, an average of 38 children die from heat-related deaths after being left inside cars each year in the United States. Florida consistently ranks among the top states for these incidents, and currently ranks second in the U.S. for the number of child hot car deaths.

With 118 incidents recorded since 1990, Florida is the state with the second-highest number of child fatalities from excessively hot cars. In 2023 alone, 7 kids died, the most in a single year since 2017. Texas has recorded the most child fatalities from overheated cars in the country—155 since 1990. Children under three years old account for 88% of those who pass away from heatstroke after being left alone in a hot car.

The month’s most likely to see hot car deaths are May through September. Unintentionally leaving kids in cars is something that happens most often at the end of the workweek. On the other hand, incidences when kids enter cars by themselves tend to occur more frequently on weekends.

What is the Science Behind Heatstroke?

The interior of a car can heat up at an alarming rate. Even on a relatively mild day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach dangerous levels. Here is a breakdown of how quickly the temperature can rise:

  • 10 minutes: The temperature inside a car can increase by 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 20 minutes: The temperature can rise by 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 60 minutes: The temperature can be more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the outside temperature.

On a hot day in Florida, where the outside temperature can easily reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the inside of a car can exceed 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be fatal for a child, as their bodies heat up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.

What Factors Contribute to Child Hot Car Deaths? 

  • Forgotten Children: In many cases, busy parents and caregivers accidentally leave children in the car due to changes in routine or distractions.
  • Gained Access: Sometimes children climb into unlocked cars without their parents’ knowledge and become trapped.
  • Intentionally Left: In some instances, children are intentionally left in the car by caregivers who underestimate the danger or the time they will be away.

The consequences of leaving a child in a hot car are devastating. Heatstroke can occur when the body’s temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and unconsciousness. When the body temperature reaches 107 degrees Fahrenheit, it can result in death.

In response to the persistent problem of hot car deaths, Florida has implemented several measures. Public awareness campaigns aim to educate parents and caregivers about the risks. Law enforcement agencies often run “Look Before You Lock” campaigns during the summer months. Additionally, proposed legislation at both the state and federal levels seek to mandate rear seat reminder systems in all new vehicles.

Remember: It takes only a few minutes for a car to become a death trap for a child. Always check your backseat, lock your car, and educate others. Together, we can save lives.

If you or a loved one has lost a child due to an act of negligence, including leaving a child trapped in a hot car, let our Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton help you understand your legal options. Call us at 866-608-5529 or contact us online 24/7 for a FREE consultation.

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