-Virginia Ranked 9th in the Nation of Children who Have Died in Hot Cars-

With temperatures expected to continue rising, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect children from extreme heat. Hotter weather this summer increases the risk of children being left behind or trapping themselves in a sweltering hot car. According to Kids and Car Safety, more than 1,000 children have died in hot cars in the past three decades with Virginia ranking 9th in the nation of children who have died in hot cars with 38 deaths. May through September are the months at the highest risk for hot car tragedies.

AAA Mid-Atlantic, Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA), Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Child Care Aware of Virginia and BabyIn BabyOut© are urging parents and others caring for children to check that back seat to make sure they’re not leaving a child behind in a car where they can become a victim of heatstroke or death. Drivers should also be making sure cars parked at home are locked so children can’t get inside of them and become trapped in the heat. The trend in deaths has been rising, with 2018 and 2019 marking the worst years on record with 54 and 53 child deaths respectively.

“One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days in the United States from being left in a car or crawling into an unlocked vehicle,” said RAA CEO Chip Decker. “It’s incredibly important we do everything we can to prevent these tragedies. In almost every case the deaths could have been prevented.”


“As we enter the summer months, we want to remember that vehicles can heat up quickly and that a child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult,” said Transportation Safety Supervisor Sarah Wilson with the Virginia Department of Health. “The best strategy to avoid the risk of pediatric vehicular heatstroke is to set up good habits. Particularly, reminders to check the back seat and keeping keys out of reach of children.”

Parents don’t intend to leave a child in a hot car, it often happens during changes in routine.

“Stress, lack of sleep, fatigue and a change in daily routine can happen to the most well-meaning and responsible parents,” said Morgan Dean, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson. “Changes in routines often trigger situations that lead to heatstroke deaths. So, especially as temperatures rise, we urge parents to take specific precautions to prevent child heatstroke in vehicles. Simple, but consistent steps can prevent the unimaginable grief of the loss of a child.”

Doing these three important things can help prevent a hot car tragedy:

  • NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
  • Make it a habit to look in the back seat EVERY time you exit the car.
  • ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach.

Organizations like BabyIn BabyOut and Child Care Aware of Virginia have been working to raise awareness and make a difference.


Making a Difference:

Richmond’s own Hannah Rhudy was just 13 in 2017 when she launched a life-saving program to keep children safe from pediatric vehicular stroke. She started BabyIn BabyOut©, offering free brightly colored rear-view mirror hangtags and dashcards to parents to help remind them that a little one is in the backseat. When putting a child in the car, the driver displays the “Baby In” side of the card. When getting out, the driver flips it to the “Baby Out” side. The nonprofit has distributed more than 70,000 hangtags across the United States and Puerto Rico. Hannah’s sister Addison Rhudy, 16, a student at James River High School, now serves as ambassador and spokesperson for BabyIn BabyOut.


Child Care Aware of Virginia works with families and childcare professionals statewide to improve the quality of childcare in Virginia. The organization offers training and resources to childcare programs to ensure child safety and effective safety protocols surrounding emergency preparedness, firearm safety, vehicle and car seat safety. Child Care Aware also provides consumer education to families about the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car, how to properly install and use car seats, information on safe firearm storage, among many other child safety topics, child development and childcare needs. Child Care Aware of Virginia is the statewide childcare resource and referral network, providing free childcare referrals to families, supporting childcare businesses through professional development, and advocating for safe, quality care for all of Virginia’s children.


If you are a bystander and see a child in a hot vehicle:

  • Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
  • If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.
  • If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.
  • If the child is not responsive or appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window—Virginia has a “Good Samaritan” law ( 8.01-225) that protects people from lawsuits when getting involved to help a person in an emergency.