Heat Stroke Deaths Cause Devastation in Texas Summers

Jun 2013

On May 10th of this year, a tragedy happened in Texas. A five-month-old baby girl was left inside of a car parked outside of a Texas high school where her mother was a teacher. The baby died and investigators are still looking into the case. Unfortunately, it was not an isolated incident; Texas records more of these deaths than any state in the nation.

Our San Antonio personal injury attorneys know that this baby’s death was not the first to occur as a result of heatstroke and it won’t be the last. Texas summers are very hot and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 75 percent of the 32 heatstroke deaths in the U.S. last year occurred in June, July and August.  Heatstroke deaths can happen fast and parents and caregivers need to be aware of the very serious dangers that young children face.

Heatstroke Deaths a Major Risk for Children

According to NBC News, 567 kids have died in hot cars in the United States since 1998. This year alone, there have already been eight children killed by heatstroke including the five-month-old baby in Texas. Most of the children who died this year were babies or children under two, which is consistent with past findings showing that children ages four and under are at the greatest risk of heatstroke related fatalities.

Children are not as well-equipped as adults to regulate their body temperature and so are at a greater risk of dying of heatstroke with even a short period of exposure to excessively hot temperatures. Babies and young children are also unable to get themselves out of cars if a parent or caregiver forgets that they are in the backseat. Rear-facing car seats also up the chances of a baby being left inside of a car since a parent may not notice that the child is still in his or her carrier.

Unfortunately, a caregiver doesn’t have to have a long mental lapse in order for a baby or young child to die. NHTSA indicates that the temperature inside of a car can reach deadly levels within just ten minutes on an 80 degree day, even when the window has been cracked open.

A parent or caregiver who forgets the child even for just a few minutes could thus cause serious and permanent injury or death. When children do survive being locked in a hot car, they are likely to experience life-changing and permanent damage including cognitive impairments, blindness, deafness, and brain damage.

Parents and caregivers need to do everything possible to prevent further tragedies from occurring in Texas this year. NHTSA cautions that even dedicated and conscientious caregivers could forget a child in the back seat, especially if dropping off the baby is not part of their normal routine. Bus drivers and daycare centers may also forget children in vehicles, especially if they are transporting multiple kids and don’t check all of the seats at the end of their route.

The NHTSA’s summer campaign, Look Before You Lock, is intended to remind parents to check for their babies before they lock their car doors. Hopefully this campaign will prevent more deaths from happening this year either because of parents forgetting their kids or because of caregivers who fail to live up to their obligations to keep children safe.

If your child has been injured, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a free case evaluation.

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