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NWS’ Excessive Heat Warning Means Children Are Highly Vulnerable to Heatstroke

 For Immediate Release  Contact: Ernest Landante, Jr.
 July 6, 2016  609-888-7915

TRENTON – With the National Weather Service issuing an excessive heat warning for parts of New Jersey thru Friday, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families is reminding parents and guardians to never leave a child alone in a vehicle.

Running an errand may appear to take a few seconds; however, leaving a child alone in a car often stretches longer, putting a child at risk of heatstroke and death.

Vehicle interiors hit unbearable temperatures quickly.  A relatively cool day at 60 degrees outside could heat a car to 110 degrees inside.  The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the 90s and the heat index reaching 100 during afternoon hours thru Friday.

“Under no circumstances should anyone ever leave a child alone in a vehicle,” said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.  “A momentary convenience can quickly turn disastrous.  Please, take the extra time and make the extra effort to take the children in your vehicle with you.  It may be cliché, but it truly is a matter of life and death.

So far this year, 16 children nationwide died from heatstroke because they were left unattended in vehicles, according to the website  Since 1998, 12 children in New Jersey have died from vehicle-related heatstroke.

The New Jersey Department of Children and Families encourages parents and guardians to take steps to avoid leaving children unattended in cars.  Adults can leave a stuffed animal in the child's unoccupied car seat.  Once caregivers place the child in the car seat, they can move the stuffed animal to the front seat.  The stuffed animal will act as a visual reminder to remove the child from the vehicle upon reaching the destination.

Other steps adults can take to keep young children safe include:

  • Removing kids from the vehicle before unloading groceries or other items;
  • Looking inside at the vehicle's front and back seats before locking the door and walking away;
  • Not allowing children to play in or around an unattended vehicle;
  • Always lock your car and secure the keys so children can't get to them;
  • Installing a trunk release mechanism to avoid kids getting trapped inside the trunk; and
  • Calling 911 immediately if you see a child unattended in a vehicle.

DCF’s video on child vehicular heatstroke is available at file://dcf/it/DFSRDATA/Video/CarSafety2015.wmv.

DCF is dedicated to ensuring a better today and an even greater tomorrow for every individual the department serves.  In partnership with New Jersey's communities, DCF ensures the safety, well-being, and success of New Jersey's children and families.  DCF funds and directly provides services and support to over 100,000 women, children, and families each month.