(KRON) — A female toddler who died tragically after being discovered unresponsive inside a vehicle on Wednesday appears to be at least the 26th child to die in a hot car in the U.S. this year, according to statistics from Kids and Car Safety. The female toddler was discovered on Wednesday at the 46500 block of Spruce Street in front of Indio Mufflers in Indio.

The circumstances surrounding how the young girl ended up in the vehicle are currently being investigated by law enforcement, according to Kids and Car Safety. The organization, which is a national nonprofit, states that California ranks third in the nation when it comes to hot car deaths for children, behind Florida at number two and Texas at number one.

The nonprofit has tracked one hot car death in the Golden State this year and 64 such deaths between 1990 and 2021. According to data collected by Kids and Car Safety, there have been more than 1,000 children who died in hot cars since 1990 and another 7,300 who survived with injuries that varied in terms of severity.

The nonprofit also states that around 87% of children who die in hot cars are age 3 and under. Sadly, the majority, 56%, were unknowingly left by an otherwise responsible parent or caregiver.

Currently, efforts are underway to implement technology to prevent such tragedies. There was a provision passed in 2021 as part of the infrastructure bill requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a regulation by November 2023 for technology to help prevent such deaths to be implemented in all new cars.

“We are committed to the push for occupant detection technology in all cars immediately. As we continue our advocacy, children continue to die week after week. It is beyond heartbreaking,” stated Janette Fennell, founder, and president of Kids and Car Safety, the leading national nonprofit working solely to prevent injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles.  “Automakers do not have to wait for the regulation to be issued requiring technology; they can add occupant detection technology to their vehicles today. An occupant detection and alert system could have gotten assistance to this sweet angel before it was too late,” she continued.

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According to Kids and Car Safety, the general public misunderstands child hot car deaths with many parents believing it could never happen to them. The organization, which is funded by State Farm Insurance, has offered the following safety tips for keeping kids safe:

  • Make sure your child is never left alone in a car
  • Place the child’s diaper bag or item in the front passenger seat as a visual cue that the child is with you.
  • Make it a habit of opening the back door every time you park to ensure no one is left behind. To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without in the back seat (employee badge, laptop, phone, handbag, etc.)
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you right away if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled. 
  • Clearly announce and confirm who is getting each child out of the vehicle. Miscommunication can lead to thinking someone else removed the child.

For more information, visit: Heatstroke | KidsandCars.org