HOUSTON - The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services wants parents to know the dangers of leaving children in cars during the summer heat. It partnered with the Houston Police Department, McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and Safe Kids Greater Houston to demonstrate just how quickly cars can turn dangerously hot.
"Like many things for kids, a lot of tragedies are preventable," said Dr. Robert Lapus of McGovern Medical School. "One of the misconceptions about kids and hot cars is that many parents think it can't happen to them."
While hot cars are a danger for kids across much of the south, Texas is especially prone to it. Jan Mull, a professor of meteorology and climate science at San Jose Sate University tracks hot car deaths across the U.S. on his website noheatstroke.org. His research shows that between 1998 and 2016 there were 107 hot car deaths in the state of Texas. That's the most in the country by far, and 2017 isn't shaping up any better for the state.
"So far in the United States we've had 18 heat strokes," said Diana Martinez of Safe Kids Greater Houston. "Of those 18 deaths, 7 have been here in the state of Texas."
- 4/14/2017 - 23-month-old Kingston Jackson of Burleson, TX
- 5/26/2017 - 2-year-old Cavanaugh Ramirez of Weatherford, TX
- 5/26/2017 - 1-year-old Juliet Ramirez of Weatherford, TX
- 6/7/2017 - 1-year-old Brynn Hawkins of Kerrville, TX
- 6/7/2017 - 1-year-old Addyson Overgard-Eddy of Kerrville, TX
- 6/23/2017 - 7-month-old Justin Huynh of Houston, TX
- 6/23/2017 - 3-year-old Keandre Goodman of Fort Worth, TX
According to noheatstroke.org, most hot car deaths happen when a parent or caregiver simply forgets that they have a kid in the car. Kids and Cars puts out a fact sheet each year with tips to prevent hot car deaths. However, the easiest way to prevent leaving a child behind is to give yourself a reason to look in the back seat. "It's suggested that you put your briefcase, your iPad, your cell phone in the back seat next to your child," said Martinez. "So you know that something you need to get before you get out of your car and you're reminded that your child is back there."