Florida leads the nation with the most hot car deaths in 2023

As temperatures flirt with triple digits, the possibility of heat-related illness continues to rise, making something like your car a risk to be in.
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 6:51 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHIPLEY, Fla. (WTVY) - According to statistics presented by the National Safety Council, 19 kids have died in 2023 due to a heat related illness in a vehicle. Of those 19, six (31%) come from the Sunshine State.

With temperatures flirting with triple digits, Chipley Police Chief Scott Thompson says parents need to be aware now more than ever.

“You want to take care of it pretty quick because of the short time period in which heat can rise in a car, especially in the summertime with the car not on,” said Chief Thompson. “It’s amazing people forget their kids, but it does happen.”

Today, I ran a test with a News4 vehicle to see how quickly a backseat can heat up. After driving around for an hour with the maximum air conditioning on, the car was parked under a tree in the 98 degree Florida heat. The backseat recorded a temperature of 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In 10 minutes, the backseat jumped 25 degrees to 96.9 and another 20 in an hour, capping at 118.7 degrees.

When Chief Thompson was asked if those numbers shocked him, his answer was simple: “No, if you shut your car off, it’s not going to take long for that temperature to rise.”

Chief Thompson says a quick check could be the difference between life or death for a child.

“I think we have seen throughout the country where that has happened on occasions here and there, so whether the kids are with you or not, check anyway,” said Chief Thompson.

Even if a child makes it out of a hot car, there are many punishments for leaving a child behind.

“There are several provisions in the law for the vehicle running or not running and those punishments range from a citation up to a misdemeanor and if there is great bodily harm, then it’s a felony,” said Chief Thompson.

The ‘No Heat Stroke’ organization reports Alabama to also be in the top 10 for states with the most hot car deaths since 1998. The organization reports 102 and 30 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths since 1998 in Florida and Alabama, respectfully.

Subscribe to our News 4 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning. Get instant notifications on top stories from News 4 by downloading our mobile apps.