TEXARKANA, TEX– The City of Texarkana, Texas reminds child caregivers to be mindful when exiting a vehicle, especially during the summer months.
Texas State Law specifies that it is unlawful to leave a child younger than seven in the car for longer than five minutes. If the child is injured while left alone, the adult can be charged with a felony punishable by six months to two years in jail and fines up to $10,000.
This law applies to children left in vehicles year around. However, according to Texarkana, Texas Fire Chief Eric Schlotter, the dangers of leaving a child in the car during the summer turn from unlawful to potentially deadly.
“On an 80 degree day, temperatures inside a shaded, parked car can reach deadly levels in ten minutes,” Schlotter said. “In Texas we typically have extremely hot days, upwards of 100 degrees, so it is imperative not to leave children unattended. A child’s body absorbs more heat on a hot day than an adult’s does, so this situation can turn lethal very quickly.”
According to San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences, Texas is among the top six states in the country for children fatalities in overheated vehicles, along with Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Virginia.
Here are some tips to help prevent heatstroke among children left in a hot car:
• Never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partly open, or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
• Don’t let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area;
• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle -front and back – before locking the door and walking away;
• Take steps to remember not to leave a child in a vehicle:
• Write yourself a note and place it where you’ll see it when you leave the vehicle.
• Place your purse, briefcase, or something else you’re sure to need in the back seat so you’ll be sure to see a child left in the vehicle.
• Keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. Once the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she leaves the vehicle.
• Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
• Ask your childcare center to call you if your child doesn’t arrive on time for childcare.
• If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible.
• If your keys are locked in the car, or inaccessible, break the window.
• Once you get the child out of the car, cool the child rapidly (not an ice bath but by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose).