First Responders Urge Parents to Look Before Locking Cars

Texas consistently leads nation in number of hyperthermia deaths in unattended children in vehicles

With summer weather on the way, authorities are raising awareness of the danger of unattended children in hot vehicles.

Local agencies such as the McKinney Fire Department have announced their cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to raise awareness of the issue.

Texas consistently leads the nation in the number of hyperthermia deaths in unattended children in cars. According to NHTSA statistics cited by the McKinney Fire Department, an average of 38 children die after being in a hot car or truck.

The numbers come as a shock to many parents.

"How can you forget your kid and leave them in the car?" said Glenda Reed, of Wolfe City. "Anything could happen -- anything."

The NHTSA is encouraging parents to "look before you lock."

But while half of the vehicle-related hyperthermia deaths occur when a child is left unattended, McKinney firefighters say about 30 percent of the incidents involve children who climb into a hot car and lock themselves inside.

Reed said it is important for parents to lock their cars.

"I mean, 3 and 4 years old -- they're still too little," she said. "They'll fall asleep in the heat."

Heat stroke is the No. 1 cause of noncrash-related vehicle deaths involving children younger than 14, according to the NHTSA.

First responders say that people who see a child locked inside a hot vehicle should immediately call 911 because children's body temperatures can rise five times more quickly than an adult's.

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