By Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA

Anyone who follows racing—horses, cars, sprinters—knows it’s a dead heat when two or more in a race finish in a tie. Now that I’m in parking, the term has a far more disturbing connotation. I think of deadly heat—the kind that can build up in a car even on a not-so-hot day, even with the windows cracked, in just a few minutes.

Deadly heat is already here in many states and is fast approaching in others. According to Jan Null, CCN, climatologist at San Jose State University and a leading expert on this topic, 2017, sadly, is already setting records for children dying in hot parked vehicles. The fifth child to succumb to vehicle heatstroke this year was a nearly 2-year-old boy in Texas who died April 15; that’s the earliest there have been that many deaths so early in the year in 13 years.

Want to know how fast a parked car can reach deadly heat temperatures? View the video here. Parking professionals are in a unique position to educate parents and caregivers about this issue. IPI developed materials to distribute and five key messages to help:

  • Never leave your child in a parked car. Never. Not even for a minute.
  • Never leave your car without checking the backseat. Put your wallet or phone in back as a reminder.
  • If your child is missing, check any nearby pool, car, and trunk of the car immediately.
  • Arrange for your childcare provider to call if you child doesn’t arrive on time.
  • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a car. Every minute counts.

Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is IPI’s communications counsel.