Texas Baby Dies After She Was Left Inside Hot Car
First Hyperthermia Death In The State This Year
A 7-month-old baby girl from Eagle Pass, Texas, died yesterday after her father apparently forgot to take the child to daycare and left her inside his locked automobile.
This was the first pediatric vehicular heatstroke death in Texas in 2018 and the sixth incident in the United States this year.
Police say the child was left for multiple hours inside a hot car in a high school parking lot where temperatures reached 100 degrees. The father was reported to work at the school as a teacher. Police says investigators believe the baby's death was accidental.
A child dies from heatstroke about once every 10 days from being unattended in a hot vehicle. Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatality for kids 14 and younger. In more than half of these deaths, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car or the child climbed into an unlocked car to play and couldn't get themselves out.
“What’s heartbreaking is that this is a serious public health issue that is 100 percent 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.”
Heatstroke, or 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.
“Heat is much more dangerous to children than it is to adults,” Walraven said. “When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s core body temperature may increase 3 to 5 times faster than that of an adult. This could cause permanent injury or death.”
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. Another idea is to take off one of your shoes and place it in the backseat. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
- 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.
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Here are some important tips to help prevent unintentional injury to your child:
- Dial 911 if you see an unattended child in a car. Sometimes, people don’t want to get involved or just assume the parents are on the way out. But as you read earlier, it doesn’t take long for a child to die in a hot car. If you see a child or children alone in a car without an adult, call 911 immediately.
- Never leave your child alone in a vehicle, even for 1 minute. Windows left slightly open will not affect rising temperatures in the car.
- Set safe habits: leave a cell phone, purse, briefcase, etc. in the back seat before driving, forcing you to always check the back seat and see a child is/is not back there.
- Program your cell phone and/or computer to remind you to drop off your child each day.
- Have a plan with your daycare provider to contact you within a few minutes of being late or absent. Let your daycare know that you want them to call you if you are late or you have not called in saying your child will not be in that day.
- Teach children not to play in any vehicle.
- Lock all car doors, even at home.
- If a child goes missing, always check the cars and trunks.