UPDATE: Harris County Sheriff’s Office Gets Proactive To Prevent Child Deaths In Hot Cars

The HCSO will distribute rear view mirror hang tags that remind parents to check the back seats of their vehicles

A mirror tag designed by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office reminding drivers to check their back seats before leaving a vehicle.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced Monday his office will distribute rear view mirror hang tags that remind parents to check the back seats of their vehicles to avoid leaving unattended infants or children because of the health risks they may be exposed to, including death, due to the increasing summer temperatures.

Gonzalez noted during a press conference that a nine month-old baby died last week near Baytown because her parents forgot to get her out of their vehicle.

The Sheriff explained that each parent thought the other had taken the baby out of the vehicle when the family returned from running errands. “I watched as our investigators gathered evidence at the scene and as Maria’s parents realized that their precious child was gone, all in the blink of an eye,” Gonzalez said and added that “it was heartbreaking on many levels.”

“Who would leave their children unattended is always the rhetorical question. There have been some studies done and it seems that there’s a psychology to it, where folks just kind of go into autopilot,” the Sheriff commented during the press conference.

“We are calling on all parents of young children to take steps to remind themselves to never leave them behind in a vehicle even for a moment,” Gonzalez emphasized.

The Sheriff also listed precautions that parents and caretakers can keep as a routine, including opening the door and looking in the back seat before leaving the vehicle and keeping something in the back seat –such as cell phone, purse or lunch— to force themselves to look in that part of the vehicle before leaving it unattended.

Gonzalez also suggested to always lock doors –even if the car is in a garage— given the fact that some infant deaths occur because of them climbing inside a parked vehicle without their parents noticing. Additionally, according to the Sheriff, it is recommended to keep car keys where children can’t get them.

During the press conference, Doctor Sherri Onyiego, from Harris County Public Health, explained that children are more at risk of serious health problems –including death— if they are left unattended in a hot car because “their physiology is a lot different compared to adults.”

“They end up absorbing a lot more heat at a more rapid pace than adults, so high heat environments for children can really be deadly,” Onyiego underscored, while adding that elderly people and pets are also at risk.

James Green, founder of the organization Got child?, which has been providing rear view mirror hang tags since 2007 noted that these accidents are preventable and encouraged the public to learn about measures that can be taken to prevent them.

The tags are available at storefronts managed by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Recently released data point to Texas as the state where those deaths happen the most.

You can watch Sheriff Gonzalez’s press conference here:

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office announces efforts to prevent hot car deaths.