After second child dies in a hot car in Texas, experts urge vigilance | local news

Waco area experts are calling on parents and caregivers to protect children and pets from heat following the tragic death of a Houston-area 5-year-old Monday in a hot car, the sixth hot-car death of a child in the United States this year.

The boy was unable to open his car seat and get out of the car as outside temperatures passed 100 degrees Monday, Houston authorities reported. His mother found him unresponsive after two to three hours and called 911. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Five other children have died in hot cars in the United States this year, including a 10-month-old girl in Houston a month earlier, according to kidsandcars.org.

“It’s not just about hot cars,” said Dr. Floyd Barry, a pediatrician with Waco Family Medicine. “Parents must check on children playing outside every hour or so when its really hot, and get them to a cool, shady place to rest and drink water for 10 to 15 minutes.”

Barry said getting children indoors into air conditioning is good, but just getting them into a shady area, preferably with a breeze, to drink water is also helpful.

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“Parents must make sure to bring their children and their pets inside from cars, because they can’t undo their safety seats and restraint devices,” Barry said.

When it is 100 degrees outside, the interior of car can heat up to 140 in 15 minutes, Humane Society of Central Texas spokesperson Michael Gray said.

Gray said people who take companion animals someplace in their cars should make sure the animal drinks water before they go, and never leave them in a parked car.

Young children and pets cannot regulate their body temperatures the same way that adult people do, experts said.

“Children heat up three to five times faster than adults,” Barry said.

He said heatstroke can begin when core body temperature reaches 104 degrees. At that temperature a child’s major organs will also begin to shut down.

“A core body temperature of 107 degrees is incompatible with life,” Barry said.

Barry said his favorite tip for not forgetting a child or a pet, he heard on morning television news show.

“Put your left shoe in the back with the child,” Barry said. “When you get out of the car and your foot touches the ground, you’ll know you need your shoe. Searching for the shoe, you’ll find the child.”

Bystanders should respond if they see a child alone in a car, said Heather Schmidt, a local operations manager and paramedic with American Medical Response.

“If you see a child alone in a car, call 911,” Schmidt said. “If the child is unresponsive or looks to be in pain, first call 911, then, get the child out of the car and use passive cooling measures.”

She said to spray the hot child with cool water, not soak them.

“Have them drink cool, not cold, water and move them to a cool environment,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt and Barry both said parents should teach children not to play in cars.

Barry said preventing heat stroke and heat exhaustion, by keeping children and pets safe in the heat, is much easier than curing them afterward.

“An ounce of prevention is worth two metric tons of cure,” Barry said.

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