A growing number of children are dying or being injured after being left alone in a hot car, and children’s advocates say not enough is being done to prevent such deaths, which the government doesn’t even track. Jan , an independent researcher in San Francisco, counted 214 cases of heat-related deaths from 1998 through July 31 of children who were left in cars, reports USA Today. Last year, he says, there were 42 cases, up from 25 in 1999. “These parents are baking their children,” says , who compiled the data from news reports. Most of the children were 2 months to 5 years old.
Carmaker General Motors and the National SAFE KIDS Campaign have identified at least 175 heat-related deaths in cars since 1996. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a report in May, identified 116 deaths and 39 injuries in children 9 and younger from 1998-2002, the most recent year for which data are available. It examined death certificates and news reports. But a July 2002 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said reports may “undercount the true number of fatal cases nationally” because data are limited or incomplete. Deaths this year – 19 so far – have occurred from Oregon to New Jersey and south to Florida.