Summertime Turns Cars in to Death Traps

Why does this keep happening? Surely, people know by now how dangerous it is to leave a child in the car in the summer time! It is deadly dangerous yet it keeps happening year after year. It makes my heart hurt.

Consider this my annual reminder to never – ever – leave a child alone in an enclosed vehicle, no matter the time of year. Children are especially vulnerable to heat stroke. As their internal temperature rises their little hearts beat faster which, in turn, diverts blood from their lungs, brains and other internal organs. The result? A painful headache and excruciating spasms of arms and legs. It is a terrible death.

Experts say if its 93 degrees outside the interior of a car can quickly reach 147 degrees. Imagine trying to catch your breath in a small space that is that hot.  Now imagine that there is no way to escape because someone you trusted either forgot you were there or deliberately left you there to, as one pot-smoking young mother of two put it, “to teach them a lesson.” Both her daughters died while she took a long nap inside.

Since 1990, more than 800 kids have died in hot cars. Some were the result of terrible accidents, others because of criminal neglect. Through the end of July reports, nationwide, at least 29 young souls have been lost in this torturous way.

  • In sweltering Phoenix, Arizona two babies died in separate hot car instances in two days. A one year old perished in a vehicle outside a church, a 7 month old was found in a Northeast Phoenix neighborhood.
  • In Portales, New Mexico a daycare worker left two toddlers, both about 2 years old, strapped into their car seats after having had lunch at a nearby park. About an hour and a half later she returned to the car and discovered one of the babies was dead. As I write this the other child remains in critical condition.
  • In Caldwell, Idaho, a working mother left her 5-month-old girl with her boyfriend who then left the infant inside his car while he signed papers to buy a new vehicle. He says he lost track of time while the baby baked to death in the sun.
  • In Kerrville, Texas, a teenage mother decided hanging out with a 16-year old male was more interesting than caring for her two daughters, ages 1 and 2. Police say she intentionally left them in the car for more than 15 hours. A grand jury will decide if Amanda Hawkins, 19, is charged with murder.
  • In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a father left his three children in a blazingly hot car while he went to work. When he yelled for help with his 11-month-old daughter in the parking lot and a passerby responded he “tossed” the lifeless, naked baby to the Good Samaritan and sped away. Travis McCullough was arrested for criminal homicide and child neglect.

Texas holds the dubious distinction of being the leading state for hot car deaths of children. And earlier this month, outside Austin another dependent person, a 48-year-old developmentally disabled woman, went missing from her care facility and was found dead in a hot van outside. When or how she got there is unknown.

And let’s not forget our pets. The American Veterinarian Medical Association says hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion every year. Three police K-9 dogs have died so far this year after their officer-handlers left them in their vehicles. It is faulty thinking to believe your pet will be okay if left in the car for “just a few minutes” or that “cracking the window” makes it okay.

The news will surely get worse because, traditionally, July, August and September are the deadliest months for hot car deaths of children. But they have happened in every single month of the year, including January. It doesn’t necessarily have to be hovering in the 90’s outside for it to be triple digits inside a car.

I’m sorry to say there’s not a lot that can be done about negligent or criminally inclined parents until something horrible happens. But there is something that can be done to help frazzled parents who simply – and honestly – forget their child is strapped into the back seat of their car. It’s called the Hot Cars Act of 2017 which would require all new cars to include an alarm alerting a departing driver if a passenger remains in the back seat.

“Our cars can already alert drivers when they leave their keys in the car, their lights on, or their trunk open,” Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said.

“And cars are mandated to have seat belts, interior trunk-releases, and rear backup cameras,” he said. So why can’t this inexpensive technology also be included?

The answer is – it can be – and it is already available on a few new cars. Write your representatives in Washington and urge them to get behind this important legislation.  Innocent lives depend on it.




  1. Diane Dimond on August 7, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Twitter pal Julie Ferguson@DearBubbie writes:

    I’m also shocked to see educated people walking their dogs on hot concrete sidewalks! Don’t they know they can burn their paws?

  2. Diane Dimond on August 7, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Reader Lou Molinari writes:

    Dear Diane,

    I saw your recent articles on Hot Car Deaths and possible future solutions and laws.

    It is important that we keep talking about this problem and sharing solutions..
    We need to be attacking this problem from many fronts at the same time.

    What everyone has been focused on is the car and what to do in the car.
    We need to have a new perspective to the problem and that is what a nonprofit BabySav is doing.


    BabySav solutions are available NOW.

    What lives could we of saved in more knew about it?

    Our solutions have been deployed in over 1000 location across the country.
    We need to spread the message so we can all work together in ending this probelm.

    The link below is to an article that describes some of the reasons what this keeps occurring and what is needed to end it.

    Please let me know what other information you need.

    Lou Molinari

  3. Diane Dimond on August 7, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Noozhawk Reader Benebeth writes:

    Most of the time it’s intentional, they don’t “forget”. Recently a father was convicted of murder for leaving his child in the car all day. “He forgot” Thing is, he stopped at a fast food restaurant to feed the child and his work was about seven minutes away.

  4. Diane Dimond on August 7, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Facebook Friend Shirley Pacheco writes:

    Absolutely, when does this simple act of check the back seat to make sure your kid is not sitting there. Stop !!

  5. Diane Dimond on August 7, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Facebook Friend Bill Voinovich writes:

    If you’re not INTELLIGENT ENOUGH to realize that your CHILD is strapped into the car seat in the back & you wander off into the vast expanses of your local Walmart without REALIZING you left you BABY in a HOT CAR, then MAYBE you ought to give some very serious thought about making yourself BABY-PROOF, you moron……..

  6. Diane Dimond on August 8, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Reader Chris Cole writes:

    Ms. Dimond:

    I was very interested in your article “Summertime Turns Cars in to Death Traps.” The deaths that occur in hot cars are a tragedy, and are often avoidable.

    A church friend (who is also a volunteer firefighter & EMT in training here in Georgia) and I have taken an interest in this issue, and have created a simple smartphone app that helps parents and other caregivers remember that they may have children in their vehicle. The app is called “Car Seat”, and is currently available for Apple and Android. Here are the links: (Apple) (Android)

    I understand that you may be hesitant to click a link in an email, and if so I encourage you to look up “Car Seat” on iTunes and/or Google Play and view the app.

    Car Seat is brutally simple. Once installed and a simple setup occurs, the app is always on. When it detects that the phone is moving in a vehicle it arms itself, and then when it detects that the phone has stopped moving in a vehicle for three minutes it begins to alarm.

    The first two alarms are gentle; in fact it is an infectious baby laugh! At the same time, a popup asks if everyone is out of your car. The next two alarms are more strident, and the fifth is actually a siren.

    Unlike other technology that attempts to deal with this issue, Car Seat does not rely on any other tech or device. If the phone is on and is connected, the app will work. If the phone is turned off or runs out of power, the app turns itself back on when the phone restarts.

    Most hot car deaths and injuries occur simply because a caregiver was distracted and forgot the child was in the car. Our app deals with that scenario specifically.

    Please take a look at “Car Seat”. We would like to get the word out and have enough sales to be able to advertise the app aggressively. It is priced very affordably at $1.99 to recoup development costs and to then be able to advertise and reduce these deaths and injuries.

  7. Diane Dimond on August 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Facebook Fan Charlene Faris of Palm Springs, CA writes:

    Yes, to pets, too!!! I was our local Palm Springs Walmart last week, at night, and an announcement was made for the owner of a doggy to go to their car and retrieve it…..I was sooo sad about this!!! Living here in the desert heat is brutal, and one can’t leave any animal nor human in a car just about any month of the year..especially in August. Thanks for this message, Diane Dimond

  8. Diane Dimond on August 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Facebook Friend Alan Fountain writes:

    There needs to be a sensor in car seats that detect the weight of a child and temperature and attached to parent phone App and 911 mandatory with GPS tracking…….if we are going to have smart phones and technology this is a cause to activate smart car seats. At minimum it could sound an alarm on out side of automobile, Maybe it’s time I start inventing. This is sad and such a preventable loss. Such an Easy Invention and maybe a new advocacy mission to help children Lord Knows I can’t win fighting Sexual Predators as they have dominion over that battle with child welfare. Thanks for another mindful worthwhile topic. Smart Car Seats…My new Venture!

  9. Diane Dimond on August 9, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Facebook Friend Nancy Spieker Robel writes:

    The alert is great and after five minutes a loud alarm outside the vehicle should be heard with an automatic unlock so good samaritans, hopefully not child molesters, can come to the aid of the victims!

  10. Diane Dimond on August 9, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Facebook Friend Joya Colucci Lord writes:

    I’m sorry, I find it hard to believe someone would just *forget* that their child is in the car.

  11. Diane Dimond on August 9, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Facebook Friend Ronnie Kaminski Latimer writes:

    Sickening! I just don’t get it.

  12. Diane Dimond on August 9, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Facebook Friend Scott Christie writes:

    Won’t stop as long as adults are STUPID!!!!!

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