AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is warning residents that warmer weather places children at greater risk of injury or death if left unattended in a vehicle. Every year children die from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle or entering a vehicle unnoticed. Such negligence could lead to criminal charges. A child should never be left unattended in a vehicle.
“Children are needlessly dying every year because they are left unattended in vehicles,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “The public can do their part by notifying emergency personnel if they witness a child alone or in distress inside a vehicle – regardless of the weather conditions.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children. Temperatures inside a car can rise more than 20 degrees in only 10 minutes; and even with an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside a car can reach 110 degrees. Leaving windows partially rolled down does not help. In addition, young children are particularly at risk since their bodies heat up faster than an adult.
DPS offers the following tips for preventing vehicular heatstroke deaths and injuries:
Never leave your child unattended in the vehicle.
Call 9-1-1 if you see a child alone in a car, and emergency personnel will provide guidance.
Teach children not to play in vehicles, and make sure to place the keys out of reach when not being used.
Always check the back seats or cargo areas of your vehicle before walking away.
Establish reminders that help ensure you remove children from the vehicle. For example: leave your bag, lunch or cell phone in the back seat with the child’s car seat.
If a child goes missing, open the doors and trunks to every vehicle in the area. Many heatstroke deaths occur when a child accesses a parked car unnoticed.
For additional information on preventing child heatstroke in cars, please see the NHTSA website. (The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services also provides related information.)
Additionally, animals are also susceptible to heat-related injury or death – don’t put your pets in these life-threatening conditions.