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5-year-old dies after accidentally left in vehicle for several hours as temperature rises above 100 degrees, sheriff says

5-year-old dies after accidentally left in vehicle for several hours as temperature rises above 100 degrees, sheriff says

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – According to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, a child has died after being left in a hot car for several hours outside a home in northeast Harris County.

The tragic incident took place at around 2pm at the 13700 block of Blair Hill Lane.

According to Gonzalez, a mother and her two sons – ages 8 and 5 – were shopping for a birthday party and when they returned to the house, the mother and older boy got out of the loaner vehicle.

The mother did not know that her youngest son was still tied up inside. By the time she realized she hadn’t seen her little boy, she ran outside to find him unresponsive in the back of the vehicle, still strapped into his car seat.

Afternoon temperatures rose slightly above 100 degrees on Monday afternoon and closed vehicle temperatures were even higher.

The medical examiner’s office has not yet released his official cause of death, but Gonzalez said he likely died of heat stroke.

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“It seems like the child routinely knows how to untie themselves from the toddler’s seat and open the door, but on this occasion, that didn’t happen,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said it is not clear why the child did not unfasten the belt, but it is possible that the child was not familiar with the loaner vehicle.

Officials are reminding parents traveling with their children during these days of extreme heat to put something in the back seat to remind them that a child is in the car with them.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety AdministrationThe number of children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they were left behind or trapped, has increased in recent years. In 2018 and 2019, a record 53 children died of heatstroke in a vehicle each year.

Heatstroke Facts

The majority of hot car deaths – 53% – occur because someone forgets a child in a car. You may be wondering: how come? Families who lost a loved one thought the same at one point, but then tragedy befell them. Here are some additional facts.

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  • About 46% of the time a child was forgotten, the caregiver planned to drop the child off at a nursery or playgroup.

  • Thursday and Friday – the end of the work week – have had the highest deaths.

  • More than half of the deaths (54%) are children under 2 years of age.

Tips to keep children safe

Check for baby

Parents and carers, make it a habit to always check your car before locking the doors. To remind: Park. To look. Lock. And always ask yourself, “Where’s baby?”

Everyone should keep their car locked

Deaths from vehicular heatstroke don’t just happen when a child is forgotten. The second leading cause – 26% – of such deaths is children getting into unattended vehicles. Make it a habit to always lock your car doors and trunk, all year round. The temperature in a car can rise above 115 degrees when the outside temperature is only 70 degrees.

Never leave a child alone

While all types of vehicular heatstroke deaths are preventable, the third leading cause of these deaths – knowingly abandoning a child – is the most preventable cause. Never leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the windows down or the air conditioning on. A child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult’s.

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Do you see a child alone in a vehicle?

If you see a child alone in a vehicle, make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.

  • If the child appears to be fine, try to locate the parents; if in a public place, the facility will have the car owner paged through an intercom system.

  • If the child is unresponsive and appears to be in distress, try getting in the car to help the child — even if that means breaking a window. Many states have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits if they become involved in helping a person in an emergency.

Remember: kids and hot cars can be a deadly combination. Don’t take the chance. Always look at the front and rear of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away. Help spread the word on social media, #HeatstrokeKills #CheckforBaby

Technology available to avoid hot car deaths

There are also several products that can help prevent hot car deaths.

Some recently produced vehicles already have systems that can detect if a child is in the vehicle, but for those who are not technically advanced there are other products you can install that will provide the same assistance. KidsAndCars.org has prepared a list for parents and consumers. Click here to read more on their website.

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