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Tips to keep kids safe in vehicles during intense heat

Always check the back seat
Posted at 9:00 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-10 11:46:36-04

WACO, TX — Texas has seen at least one child die in a hot vehicle every year this century.

The state leads the nation in pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths in 2020, with a total of five deaths, according to noheatstroke.org.

The intense and prolonged heat of the summer is over this year.

However, temperatures this weekend will be close to 100 degrees, nearly 15 degrees above normal.

It does not take long for vehicle interiors to get hot and deadly.

The National Weather Service says due to the sun's shortwave radiation, dark interior surfaces such as dashboards or seats under sunlight can reach 200 degrees.

The non-circulating air inside a vehicle can also become hot quickly, too.

When the temperature outside is only 85 degrees, under direct sunlight, the interior can reach 104 degrees.

After an hour, it can become a deadly 130 degrees.

Officer Sofie Martinez with the Waco Police Department Community Outreach told 25 News that changes in routine between parents often lead to pediatric vehicular heat stroke deaths.

"They're not used to having a child in their normal everyday practice. What you can do is leave something that you cannot be without in the back seat," said Martinez.

When children begin suffering from heat-related illness, there are not a ton of symptoms.

"Their body just shuts down, they become unresponsive. It happens very quickly," Mclane Children’s trauma program manager Kayla Cehand said.

Texas law, under Penal Code § 22.10, states that a child under the age of seven can not be left unattended in a vehicle for more than five minutes, unless the child is with someone 14 years or older.

Under the Good Samaritan law, if no other option exists, breaking into the vehicle safely to retrieve the child is allowed.