Prevention: What Employers Can Do
Did You Know?
Often child hot vehicle deaths, which are tragic and preventable, occur when parents are going to work.
Employers can educate their employees utilizing the information and resources found in this toolkit to identify what they can do to prevent both child hot vehicle deaths and deaths and injuries to pets.
What Can Parents and Caregivers Do?
Preventative measures have been identified by the following agencies to avoid child hot vehicle injuries and fatalities:
- Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended — even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running, and the air conditioning is on.
- Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away. Train yourself to Park, Look, Lock, or always ask yourself “Where’s Baby?”.
- Ask your childcare provider to call if your child does not show up for care as expected.
- Place a personal item like a purse or briefcase in the back seat as another reminder to look before you lock.
- Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat.
- Avoid distractions while driving, especially cell phone use.
- Be extra alert when there is a change in your routine, like when someone else is driving your child or you take a different route to work or childcare.
- If someone else is driving your child, always check to make sure he has arrived safely.
- Keep your vehicle locked when it is parked to prevent a curious child from entering when no one is around. Many child hot vehicle deaths have occurred when a child mistakenly locks himself inside.
- Make sure children do not have easy access to your vehicle keys. Store them out of a child’s reach.
- Teach children that cars are not safe places to play and to never get into a vehicle without an adult.
- Keep rear fold-down seats closed to prevent a child from crawling into the trunk from inside the car.
- Remind children that cars, especially vehicle trunks, should not be used for games like hide-and-seek.
- Prevent toddlers from escaping the home by using childproofing doorknob covers or installing stick on door alarms to alert you if an outside door has been opened. Many children sneak out of the home unnoticed and get into hot cars.
- Teach children how to use the door handle or electric door button to get out of the vehicle if they become trapped and if they cannot get one door to open to try another.
- Parents should know that rear door safety locks could prevent a child from opening the back doors from inside the vehicle.
- Teach children how to honk the horn or turn on the flashers and to stay visible in the window so someone can rescue them if they become trapped.
What Can Everyone Do, Even Bystanders?
The following organizations have provided instructions for what to do if you see a child or pet in a hot vehicle:
- If you see a child alone in a locked car, get them out immediately and call 911. A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.
- Do not wait for the driver to return.
- Carry a window breaker / seat belt cutter tool to be prepared in the event that you come across someone trapped in a car.
- Call 911 right away, the 911 operator can help give you instructions on how to care for the child or pet.
- If the child or pet is not responsive or is in distress, immediately:
- Get them out of the vehicle by any means necessary.
- Move them to a cooler environment (somewhere with air conditioning or shade if air conditioning is not available).
- Remove child’s clothing to let the heat dissipate from their skin.
- Dampen them with cool water or wet rags, immerse in cool water (not in an ice bath).
- If the child or pet is responsive and not in distress:
- Stay with them until help arrives.
- Ask someone else if they can locate the driver, you might suggest they ask security of a store manager to page them.
As a result of the growing need for technology in the vehicle to prevent child vehicular heatstroke, manufacturers have developed vehicle reminders to prevent these tragic incidents.
GM’s Rear Seat Reminder, implemented in a number of models since 2017, is a feature in some GM cars that uses back door sensors that become activated when either the rear door is opened or closed within 10 minutes of the vehicle being started, or while the vehicle is running. Under these circumstances, when you reach your destination a reminder appears on the dashboard as well as an audible chime notification.
But what happens if the driver stops and restarts the vehicle without opening the back door? The GM Rear Seat Reminder feature is intended to activate when either rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is running. Therefore, this technology would not be adequate in this instance.
Nissan developed a feature similar to GM’s, called the Rear Door Alert. Standard on the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder (with plans to roll it out on all four-door models by 2022), this system shows a warning in the instrument cluster and honks the horn if it detects that a rear door was opened before a trip and not opened again after the trip was completed. The driver can choose to limit the warning to just the display or to disable it altogether if it does not suit his or her needs.
Hyundai’s Rear Occupant Alert feature goes a step further than the systems used by GM or Nissan because it incorporates motion detection. This system displays a warning in the driver’s gauge cluster after the engine is turned off. The warning reminds the driver to check the rear seat if either rear door had been opened before or during the trip. If the warning is ignored and the vehicle is locked, the rear cabin’s ultrasonic sensor will detect motion for up to 24 hours. If motion is detected, the vehicle will honk for 25 seconds and send an email or a text to the owners if they are Blue Link subscribers. So far, the feature is available in the 2020 Kia Telluride and the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe. (Kia and Hyundai, based in South Korea, are run as separate business units, but they share a corporate parent and their cars often share parts, design, and engineering.)
Toyota added a rear-seat reminder to the 2020 Highlander. It operates with door logic, checking to determine whether a rear door has been opened before or during a trip and reminding the driver to check the backseat with a visual and audible alert in the driver cluster at the end of the trip.
Tesla is also working on a sensor that can detect a child left behind in a hot car. Consumer Reports has published a full listing of all vehicles that have these integrated technologies: guide to rear-seat reminder systems.
California has been identified as model legislation regarding technology in the vehicle to prevent child hot vehicle fatalities and injuries (see Model Law).
Child Presence Detection
Child safety advocates identify child presence detection sensors as the “gold standard” for preventing child vehicular heatstroke injuries and fatalities.
Starting in 2022, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) will reward manufacturers that offer technological solutions that can monitor a child’s presence in the vehicle and alert the car owner or emergency services should the situation become dangerous.
The following child presence detection technology are currently available:
Vayyar’s 3D imaging sensor technology
Vayyar’s 3D imaging sensor technology quickly and easily looks into objects or any defined volume (inside of a vehicle) and detects even the slightest anomalies and movements to bring highly sophisticated imaging capabilities to your fingertips. The system can detect the number of passengers, where they are and even if they are an adult vs. a child.
Fact Sheet: http://www.kidsandcars.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Aptiv-Child-Presence-Detection-fact-sheet.pdf
VitaSense Interior radar sensing system to spot unattended children in vehicles
Fact Sheet: http://www.kidsandcars.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/IEE_VitaSense-factsheet.pdf
Car Seat Technology
Sensorsafe is a technology found in some vehicle seats from the brand Evenflo. There is a receiver that goes into your car’s diagnostics port, a socket located inside a vehicle that accesses various vehicle subsystems where small receivers can be installed to tap into a car’s computer system. That receiver communicates with the vehicle seat’s smart chest clip – letting the driver know through a series of chimes whether a child is still in the seat after the vehicle is turned off.
Carseat CoPilot Automatic Alert System
CoPilot backseat baby reminder attaches to an infant car seat strap and sends a signal to an alarm key chain fob that attaches to car keys. No Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or smartphone app is required. The device is installed on the seatbelt clip below the existing car seat buckle. An integrated alert sensor automatically pairs with each of the alarm key fobs included in this system. When a driver leaves the car without unbuckling the seatbelt clip, in approximately 30-60 seconds the sensor will signal the alarm on his or her key fob.
Waze, a popular traffic app, has a setting that will remind a driver to check his or her back seat when a destination entered into the app is reached. But it will not alert a driver during an impromptu stop.
The resqme™ emergency escape tool is a window breaking and seat belt cutting emergency tool.
CleverElly is a device that reminds the driver to check the back seat before exiting the vehicle. Requires no installation and doubles up as a USB car charger that comes in handy in any car.
Printable Reminders (NHTSA)
- Hang tag: https://www.nhtsa.gov/files/heatstroke-doorhangerpdf
- Poster: https://www.nhtsa.gov/files/heatstroke-clings-posterpdf
- Window cling: https://www.nhtsa.gov/files/heatstroke-clings-posterpdf
- Stickers: https://www.nhtsa.gov/files/heatstroke-stickerspdf
- Flyer: https://www.nhtsa.gov/files/heatstroke-flyerpdf
Get the Facts!
- Often child vehicular heatstroke deaths and injuries occur when parents are going to work.
- There are several things that parents and caregivers can do to prevent these tragedies.
- There are several things that bystanders can do if they see a child locked in a hot vehicle.
- An occupant detection system in cars could prevent child hot vehicle deaths.
- Technology exists to prevent child hot vehicle deaths.
- Cars can alert us of children in the back seat and save precious lives.
- See a child or animal alone in a car? Get involved! Call 911 immediately.
- Be prepared to save a baby in a hot vehicle with a resqme tool.
- Always check the back seat for baby.
- Ask childcare to call you if your baby doesn’t show up as planned.
- Always keep cars locked & keys out of reach of children. If a child is missing – check in all cars.