Press Release - 07-31-2020

DMV news

For Immediate Release:

Friday, July 31, 2020




July 31 Marks National Heatstroke Prevention Day

June 2020 Among Hottest on Record


Following a stretch of above average temperatures, the New York State Departments of Motor Vehicles, Health and the Office of Children and Family Services today urged drivers to make sure children and pets are never left alone in a car, even briefly, as the heat inside vehicles can quickly become deadly. Cracking a window open or leaving the air conditioning running does not make leaving a child or pet behind less dangerous. The reminder comes during National Heatstroke Prevention Day on Friday, July 31.

Mark J.F. Schroeder, Commissioner of NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, said, “There is nothing more gut-wrenching than when a child dies from being inside a hot car and it can happen so quickly. It is easy to get distracted and forget about a child in the backseat, especially if there is a change or interruption to your daily routine, and a car can be an enticing place for a child to play. So, please check your car thoroughly before you leave it, lock your vehicle when you’re not using it, keep your keys out of reach of children, and teach them that a car is not a place to play.” 

"As we find ourselves continuously focused on efforts to curb the pandemic here in New York, it's understandable that we may be more distracted and more likely to forget to check the back seat for children when traveling," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "When a child is left in a hot vehicle, their temperatures can rise very quickly to the point of heat exhaustion. Devising a plan for yourself and family members to double-check the back seat before exiting the car can save a lifetime of heartache from a preventable tragic accident."

New York State Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “Parents and caregivers should always look before they lock when exiting a car. They should put a purse, briefcase, phone, keys or other essential item in the back seat with the child to remind them to check for a sleeping child in a car seat before leaving the vehicle. This simple means of prevention can spare a lifetime of heartache.”

June 2020 was the third hottest on record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and excessive heat has persisted through July, making vehicles even more dangerous for children and vulnerable adults.

Nationwide, 52 children died in 2019 of heatstroke because they were left or became trapped in a hot car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 20 degrees and become deadly, and a child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees.

Drivers are advised to take steps to remind themselves to “look before they lock.”

The NHTSA offers these safety tips:

  • 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 walking away. Train yourself to Park, Look, Lock, or always ask yourself "Where's baby?".
  • Ask your childcare provider to call if your child doesn’t 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's seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat.

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.

Pets too can suffer or die if left unattended in a vehicle. The Humane Society reports that temperatures in a car on a warm day can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes — even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation. 

If you see an animal in a car exhibiting signs of heat stress, the Humane Society advises to call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately. You should get the vehicle’s license plate number and enter the nearest store or business to request an emergency announcement be made about a pet left in a hot car. You should then go back and wait for police at the vehicle.