Firefighters, police, and child safety experts gathered at Fire Station 11 on Houston’s northeast side with familiar warnings for parents as children head back to class: Make sure kids walk in pairs on their way to school. Monitor internet use, and talk to kids about dealing with strangers. And for parents of small children, stay alert after you strap your child in the back seat of the car.
“So the question is, how can a parent forget a child in a vehicle?”
That’s Debbie Marley with Texas Children’s Hospital.
“That’s a question that’s asked many times when one of these deaths occur. In over half of the cases it’s because of a change in routine.”
Marley says it’s important for parents to remember that a child overheats three to five times faster than an adult. She says this month alone, 23 children have died in hot vehicles around the country. Thirteen percent of those deaths were in Texas.
“In more than 50 percent of the cases, the caregiver is the parent, there is a change in the routine of who is supposed to drop off the child as opposed to who dropped the child off, who is normally dropping the child off.”
And with routines changing at the start of the school year, and temperatures still in the 90’s, Marley encourages parents to do things to remind themselves there’s a toddler strapped in the back seat.
“Put a small stuffed animal in the front seat if there’s a child in the back. Put something that you’re going to need that day that makes you open up that back door so you see the child.”
And it’s not just children who are left in vehicles. Marley says parents need to keep a close eye on their kids if they’re playing around a car, to make sure they don’t get locked inside.