Fort Worth, Texas,
17
April
2017

Burleson Death Is Tragic Reminder That Children Die In Hot Cars

1-year-old boy left in car for hours

A 1-year-old Burleson boy became the first child in Texas this year to die after being left alone inside a car. He is the fifth in the nation to die from hyperthermia related to being left in a car.

NBC5 reported that the boy’s mother came home to drop off her two children and the older child got out of the car. The mother thought the father had removed the child from the car seat and drove to a family member’s home for about five hours before returning home and finding the child in the backseat.

“What’s heartbreaking is that this is a serious public health issue that is totally preventable,” said Dana Walraven, Community Health Outreach manager at Cook Children’s and Safe Kids Tarrant County Coordinator. “Every mom and dad out there must realize it can happen to you. Texas leads the nation in child heat-related car deaths.”

Safe Kids Worldwide says that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children.

As anyone who lives in a state like Texas can attest, summer-like temperatures can occur even in winter. But it doesn’t take a scorching hot day for a child to be in danger. Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states.

Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels.

Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.

Because of this, and because cars heat up so quickly – 19 degrees in 10 minutes – tragedies can happen faster than you think. Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death.

“We still have to get the word out that there’s never a safe time to leave your child in the car,” said Sharon Evans,Trauma/Injury Prevention coordinator at Cook Children’s, said. “We’ve seen children die in February. We hope people will take extra precaution in never leaving a child in the car.”

Safe Kids Worldwide says that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle related deaths for children and that young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adults’.

It’s hard to imagine someone forgetting a child is in the car, but people these mistakes during their busy day-to-day lifestyle. Safe Kids recommend the “ACT” method to prevent tragedy to your child or to a child you see left in a car:

  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
  • C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine. Evans suggests parents even take off one of their shoes and place it in the back seat. 
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
Look Before You Lock

Where's Baby? Look Before you Lock campaign was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2014. The Pantego Police and Fire Department has adopted this cause to advocate for children everywhere through educating parents and effecting a change of attitude. Visit their site for helpful information on protecting your child from being left unattended in a vehicle.

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photo:Jeff Calaway
Jeff Calaway
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