Pediatric heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, in motor vehicles is a growing public health issue, claiming the lives of over 500 children in the past 14 years. While some of these children were left in vehicles while their parents or caregivers ran a "quick errand" or were playing in an unlocked car, the majority were unintentionally left due to a break in routine or by being distracted.

To help address this problem, in July 2012 The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report evaluating several devices designed to prevent accidentally leaving children in closed, parked vehicles, exposing them to the risk of heat stroke. Three devices commercially available that sense the presence of a child in a child restraint were tested. Of these, none were found to be a reliable, stand-alone solution to prevent a child from being left in a motor vehicle.

"While we commend the manufacturers of these products for attempting to address this important issue and know that product refinements are already underway, our evaluation showed that the devices required considerable effort from parents and caregivers to ensure smooth operation and often that operation was not consistent," says Kristy Arbogast, PhD, principal investigator on the study and director of Engineering for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP. "As a result, education aimed at parents and caregivers and the implementation of behavior routines to prevent this from happening is critically important."

There are simple steps that parents and caregivers can take to help prevent pediatric heat stroke. To access these tips, as well as information from NHTSA and Safe Kids USA, please visit http://www.chop.edu/service/car-seat-safety-for-kids/tips-tools-from-experts/heat-stroke-prevention.html