Child Deaths in Hot Cars: U.S. Could Surpass Record Death Toll in 2018

The United States may be facing a tragic record this year, as the number of children dying inside hot cars nears levels not seen since 2010.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the 2018 death toll is currently at 48—just one death short of the worst year of 2010. In an announcement on its website, NSC said: "We are just a single tragedy away from a level we hoped never to reach again."

According to an NSC report from June, just 21 states have laws in place to protect children left in hot cars.

Just last week, two children died in Florida after being left alone in hot cars. A 1-year-old girl died after being pulled from a car at a Waha gas station in Sanford, north of Orlando, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Officers were called just before 5 p.m. on Friday, September 28, to a report of a child possibly left in a locked vehicle. When officers arrived at the scene in the 4600 block of State Road 46, the baby girl was already deceased.

The girl was found on the same day that a 4-year-old boy was discovered unconscious in a locked car in Orange County. The boy was found by a passerby in car which was not running parked at the Elite Preparatory Academy. The child was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital where he was pronounced dead, the Orange County Sheriff's Office confirmed.

The NSC said parents and guardians should "act immediately to end these deaths. We urge them to stay vigilant even as the weather cools down. On relatively mild days, temperatures inside vehicles still can reach life-threatening levels in minutes, and cracking windows does not help.

"The Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas."

Speaking to ABC News, director Amber Rollins said too many people "don't believe this can happen to them. Education and awareness are not enough. We've got to be focusing on technology because we've proven year after year that knowing this can happen to you and hearing it on the news and knowing it happens to great parents, is not changing anything."

In a post on the KidsAndCars website last month, Rollins said children were also at risk of abduction if they were left alone in a car. "Some cars are stolen while children are in the backseat," it said.