The Injury Prevention Program at Driscoll Children’s Hospital is dedicated to helping educate South Texas about the dangers of leaving children unattended in a hot vehicle.
“It is critical that all parents realize how quickly the temperature rises in an unattended vehicle, to the point that it can be life-threatening,” said Karen Beard, the Injury Prevention Training Coordinator at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
“To avoid tragedies, parents and caregivers should make it a habit to check the back seat every time they exit a car,” said Beard. “Remember: never leave a child alone in a car. Whether you are a parent, caregiver or community member, we can all help save lives and prevent tragedies.”
As of July 31, there had been 29 child vehicular heatstroke deaths in the United States during 2017, including 7 in Texas. For the entire year of 2016, there were 39 deaths in the United States and 7 in Texas. The most recent death was a 1-year-old boy July 29 in Phoenix, Ariz.
Legislation both statewide and nationally have been proposed to help prevent the deaths of young children left alone in vehicles.
The Hot Cars Act of 2017 was introduced in the U.S. Congress on June 7. If passed into law, it will require vehicle manufacturers to equip rear-seating positions with a system to alert the vehicle operator to check the rear seat positions after the motor is turned off.
In Texas, a new law provides additional protection for by-standers who take action.
Although Texas has an existing Good Samaritan law, House Bill 478 was written to provide specific liability protection to a person for removing certain individuals from a motor vehicle. The new law goes into effect Sept. 1.
Under the law, a person taking action to remove a “vulnerable individual,” which includes a child younger than 7, will be immune from civil liability, providing he follows certain safety conditions.
“We all need to do whatever we can to ensure there are no more senseless deaths caused by leaving a child alone in a vehicle,” said Beard.
(Note: The Injury Prevention Program at Driscoll Children’s Hospital has a gauge that will determine the heat inside a car. If any media would like to schedule a time to see what the heat is in a vehicle, please contact Driscoll Children’s Hospital. Injury Prevention Specialists are also available for interviews regarding leaving children in hot vehicles and legislation trying to prevent it.)