Kristin Lam, USA TODAY Published 12:36 a.m. ET Oct. 15, 2019
Studies finds that hot cars can become deadly in as little as an hour for children and pets trapped inside. USA TODAY
The death of a 1-year-old girl in Florida on Monday marked the 50th case of a child dying in a hot car this year, according to the national tracker KidsandCars.org.
Police in Tampa found the girl unconscious in her parent's Jeep after they called 911 at 6:30 pm., WFTS-TV reported. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police said her parents accidentally left her inside the family's car in the morning.
The case brings this year's toll near the all-time national record of 54 children dying of heat exhaustion in ovenlike cars, set in 2018. On average, 38 children die annually while trapped in hot vehicles, according to KidsandCars.org.
The tragedies have prompted automakers to announce they will make rear seat reminder systems standard on most passenger vehicles sold nationwide by the 2025 model year. A reminder could alert parents to check the backseat for children before leaving the car.
'Forgotten Baby Syndrome': There's science behind why parents leave kids in hot cars
"It appears it was a very busy morning for the family," Tampa police spokesperson Steve Hegarty told WFTS. "They have several other children, as well, and in an effort to get everybody where they needed to go, the toddler was left in the backseat."
Another national tracker, NoHeatStroke.org, has counted 49 deaths this year, citing one non-verified case counted by KidsandCars.org. Both trackers agree child vehicular heatstroke deaths are preventable.
Children have difficultly escaping a hot car on their own, and their respiratory and circulatory systems can't handle heat as well as adults.
Direct sunlight heats objects inside cars, so temperatures can soar as high as 130 degrees, even when external temperatures are much lower. The body's natural cooling methods, such as sweating, begin to shut down once the body's core temperature reaches around 104 degrees. Death can occur at 107 degrees.
To prevent hot car deaths, KidsAndCars.org recommends always opening the back door when parked, placing an essential item in the back seat with a child and asking a care provider to call if a child doesn't get dropped off on time. Parents can also keep cars locked at all times, teach children to honk a horn and never leave keys within a child's reach.
Contributing: Morgan Hines and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
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