More deaths after tots trapped in hot cars


by Sarah Forgany / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @ForganySarah

Posted on June 28, 2010 at 12:11 PM

The summer is young, but area medical experts fear the young of South Texas are in great danger. More children are being left in hot cars recently, including a two-year-old Seguin toddler who died from the heat.

When the sun is out, there is no hiding from its ultra-deadly rays, and especially not when you're locked helplessly in a car. Paul Henderson saw it happen to a baby last year.

"I was ready to bust the window," he said, when he saw a small child "suffocating, little baby sweating to death."

Henderson says the infant's mother went shopping and left the child in the car. For 30 minutes, no one could find the mother. Henderson says he had already called EMS.

"I actually tried to open up the door myself," he said.

This baby's life was saved, but that's not always the case.

"A young child can not handle [those temperatures] in a consistent exposure," said Dr. Fernando Guerra with Metro Health. Guerra says emergency calls to rescue a trapped child are happening on a daily basis.

San Antonio firefighters have been called out more than 80 times just in the last two months to save children trapped in cars. Last month, 35 rescues were made. That's about eight to 10 children rescued per week.

An average of 34 kids die from hyperthermia every year. So far this year, seventeen children have lost their lives around the country, including four in Texas.

Temperatures can reach a 172 degrees Fahrenheit inside a car with no air conditioning, killing a child within 15 to 30 minutes, according to Guerra. In many instances, the child is simply forgotten by parents.

Henderson says he's seen it happen one too many times.

"I never ever leave my children in the car alone," he said.


The NHTSA offers these safety tips to prevent hyperthermia:

• Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.

• Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.

• Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or with the engine running and the air conditioning on.

• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.

• If you are bringing your child to daycare, and normally it's your spouse or partner who brings them, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure everything went according to plan.

• Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.

• If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Warning signs may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea or acting strangely. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.