Child safety in and around cars

Mother with her child putting groceries in her car from her shopping cart.

Buckling your child up is just one way to help prevent injuries. It’s also important to be aware of the other hazards cars can pose to kids. Preventing backover and frontover incidents, heat stroke and trunk entrapment are just as important to keeping your kids safe in and around vehicles. Below are some resources to help you keep your kids safe.

Preventing hyperthermia (also known as heatstroke) with: Avoid, Create and Take (A.C.T.)

Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adults. Since 1998, at least 600 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when left in a vehicle.

Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death

  • Heat stroke can happy anytime, anywhere.
  • Never leaving your child alone in the car, even for a minute.
  • Consistently lock unattended vehicle doors and trunks. Keep keys and remote entry fobs out of children’s sight and reach.
  • Teach kids that trunks are for transporting cargo and are NOT safe places to play.

Create reminders and habits that give you and your child’s caregiver a safety net

  • Establish a peace-of-mind plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times.
  • Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or an item that is needed at your next stop in a back seat.
  • Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer calendar as a reminder to drop your child off at childcare.

Take action if you see an unattended child in a vehicle

  • Dial 911 immediately and follow the instructions that emergency personnel provide – they are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Preventing trunk entrapment

  • Always lock a vehicle’s doors and trunk- especially when parked in the driveway or near the home – and keep keys out of children’s sight and reach.
  • If a child is missing, check vehicles and trunks first.
  • If you see an unattended child in a car dial 911 immediately.
  • Be aware of child-resistant locks.Teach older children how to disable the driver’s door locks should they become unintentionally entrapped in a motor vehicle. A toddler will not know to climb into the front seat to climb out of the vehicle.
  • If you find your child in a locked car,get him out and dial 911 or your local emergency number immediately to check for signs of heat stroke.
  • Teach children that trunks are only used to transport cargo and are not safe places to play.
  • Show older children how to locate and use the emergency trunk release found in newer cars.
  • Keep the rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from getting into the trunk from inside the car.

Spot the tot

Danger can come from any direction, and parents must be aware of the risk of "backover" or "frontover" incidents.Many of these preventable injuries and deaths occur in driveways or parking lots when drivers are unaware children are near vehicles. Tragically, these drivers are often family members or friends of the injured child.

Parents, caregivers, drivers, and kids can all do their part to make sure that children do not share the same space as vehicles.

  • Walk all the way around your parked vehicle to check for children - or anything that can attract a child like pets or toys - under or behind your vehicle before getting in and starting the engine.
  • Accompany young children when they get in and out of a vehicle.
  • Identify and use safe play areas for children away from parked or moving vehicles.Block driveways so cars cannot enter and exit.
  • Designate a safe spot within a driver’s sight for children to wait when nearby vehicles are about to move.
  • Firmly hold the hand of each child when walking near moving vehicles and when in driveways, in parking lots or on sidewalks.

Safe Kids USA videos

How to Prevent Trunk Entrapment

How to Spot the Tot

Why You Never Leave Your Child Alone

Useful websites