For the 5th time this year in Texas, a child has died in a hot car – an easily preventable tragedy.
Monday afternoon, a 5 year-old boy in Houston, Texas was left inside a car for several hours before being found by his mother, who was getting ready for a party, according to KWTX.
After getting things for his 8-year-old sister’s birthday party, the boy’s mother came home with both of her children in the backseat. She saw her 8-year-old getting out of the car, and assumed that her younger child did the same. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the mother realized several hours later that he was missing, and ran outside to find her son still strapped into a child safety seat. Emergency workers pronounced the young boy dead at the scene. KHOU reports that a medical examiner has identified him as Trace Means.
The mother told the sheriff her son had gotten out of his car seat by himself before. However, the family was using a rental vehicle that may have been unfamiliar to the child, according to cbsnews.com. Harris County police are investigating the case.
Hot Car Deaths in Texas
Texas leads the nation with the most hot car deaths of children since 1990, with a total of 149 fatalities in the last 32 years, according to Kids and Car Safety, a child safety advocacy group. Across the country, 56% of hot car deaths happen when a child is accidentally left in a car, and 26% happen when a child gets in alone and can’t get out.
It only takes a few minutes for a car to heat up and get to a dangerous temperature. According to the National Weather Service, heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths every year in the United States.
Preventing Hot Car Deaths
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises that you should never leave a child or family pet inside a hot vehicle, especially during summer months. Older children should know how to honk the horn, turn on flashers, and try a different door if they can’t get out of the back one.
Other safety tips to remember include:
- Park, Look, Lock. Open the back door every time you park to ensure no one is left behind. To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without in the backseat (handbag, wallet, briefcase, employee badge, laptop, phone, etc.)
- Keep a toy or diaper bag in the front seat as a visual reminder that the child is with you.
- Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child is not there.
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