The pandemic is having an impact on the number of kids who have died in hot cars this year.
The total number of deaths is down, but the number of kids who have died after getting into cars on their own is up.
Typically they make up 26% of all hot car deaths.
This year it's 42%.
The national nonprofit KidsandCars.org says it's directly linked to the pandemic, with young children spending so much more time at home.
And although the numbers are down overall, advocates worry we could start seeing more cases as people return to the office and kids go back to daycare.
"Everyone should just consider this a really high-risk time. Period," said Amber Rollins, director of KidsandCars.org, "Any time schedules change, the risk for losing awareness that a child is in the backseat increases exponentially. These high-stress times cause our brain memory systems to function differently."
There are some steps you can take to make sure kids kids cannot get into a parked car by themselves:
- Install alarms on the doors of your home
- Keep your car locked at all times
- Teach kids to honk the horn if they get stuck in a car
- Check inside all cars in the area if a child goes missing
To prevent babies and toddlers from being left in a car accidentally, there are several steps you can take as well:
- Always check the back seat of your car before locking it
- Place an item in the backseat that you can't start your day without, such as your phone or laptop
- Tell your child's daycare to call you immediately if your child doesn't show up as scheduled
- Make sure you clearly communicate who is getting children out of the car
"When there's multiple adults in the vehicle and multiple children, everyone thinks someone else got the baby out," said Rollins. "Everybody goes inside. It's usually around nap time, so a couple hours can go by and no one misses the baby. Everyone thinks they're sleeping peacefully."
So far this year, 19 kids have died in hot cars, including an 8-month-old girl in Chesapeake.