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Hot cars can be deadly, two children in DFW left unattended this week

A dective speaks with the relative of a 2-year-old girl who was left unattended in a closed car and was overcome by the heat. She was revived and is recovering in the hospital.
A dective speaks with the relative of a 2-year-old girl who was left unattended in a closed car and was overcome by the heat. She was revived and is recovering in the hospital. Courtesy

A 6-month-old was found dead and a 2-year-old was hospitalized this week after they were left in cars as North Texas temperatures climbed to summer levels.

A Melissa man was arrested Tuesday after his 6-month-old daughter died. He told investigators that he forgot that she was in the car and went inside for four hours.

WFAA reported that a 2-year-old’s grandmother accidentally left her in the car while she was out shopping Wednesday in Grand Prairie. Police arrived to find the child unresponsive and without a pulse. They revived her, and she is recovering at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Summer officially began Monday, and temperatures are predictably rising.

Temperatures inside a car can rise as much as 20 degrees in 10 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Even if it’s 60 outside, temperatures inside a car can rise above 100.

According to the National Weather Service, July 1 is the average first 100-degree day at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. This means that outside temperatures will be 100 or above soon.

At least 24 children died from heatstroke in vehicles in the United States last year, according to Safercar.gov, a website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. From 1998 to 2015, 54 percent of the 661 heatstrokes occurred because a child was forgotten in a vehicle; 29 percent were children playing in an unattended vehicle.

The Texas Department of Public Safety warned in a news release that most often these incidents occur when a caregiver strays from a normal routine or someone is watching the child who doesn’t normally have that responsibility.

“Because the consequences can be deadly, DPS urges parents and caregivers to always make sure children are accounted for and not left behind in a car,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said.

“Members of the public can also do their part to keep kids safe by notifying emergency personnel if they witness a child alone or in distress inside a vehicle — regardless of the weather.”

It is more dangerous for children to be left in hot cars because their bodies heat up faster than an adult’s, authorities say. Opening a window to let air in may cool the inside temperature by a couple of degrees but overall does not make enough difference to save a life, the DPS says.

Tips for preventing heatstroke

Never leave a child in a hot car, not even for a few minutes. The DPS provided these tips to help prevent car-related heatstrokes.

▪ Always check the back seat before locking your car

▪ Find a way to remind yourself to remove your children before walking away. Set a reminder on your phone to check your back seat or leave something of importance to help you remember like a purse, cellphone or lunch.

▪ If you see something, say something. Call 911 if you see a child in an unattended car.

▪ If a child appears to be missing, check all cars in the area by opening the trunk and all doors. Many heatstrokes occur when a child gets into a car unnoticed.

▪ Remind your children not to play inside cars and ensure that the keys are out of reach when they are not being used.

For more information, go online tot safercar.gov.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Azia Branson:

817-390-7547, @aziabranson

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