Texas has most reported child hot car deaths in the nation

A few minutes could be the difference between life and death. As we head into the summer months, a nonprofit is warning Texans about the dangers of hot cars.

Extreme summer heat can turn a parked car into a greenhouse, and it’s a recipe for disaster if a child is left inside it. 

Since 1990, more than 1,000 children have died in hot cars. Texas has the most reported deaths with more than 150.

"They can overheat in a matter of minutes," Director of Kids and Car Safety Amber Rollins said.

A child’s body heat rises three to five times faster than an adult, meaning they can suffer fatal heat stroke at 104 degrees. Kids and Car Safety reported two children have already died in hot cars this year in South Carolina and West Virginia.

"We really believe there’s absolutely no way that we could ever lose awareness that they’re with us," Rollins said.

Rollins said it happens, though.

"It’s very easy when you’re in autopilot mode, and you’ve got a million things going on, to lose awareness," Rollins said.

More than half of the deaths of children in a hot car are from someone unknowingly leaving them in the vehicle.

"Open that back door, check the back seat every single time you leave your vehicle," Rollins said. "Grab a reminder item like a large stuffed animal, put it in the back seat, any time you buckle a child in the car, you bring that reminder item up to the front seat with you as a visual cue that your child is with you."

The report revealed 25 percent of the deaths in hot cars are from children getting into a vehicle on their own and not being able to get out.

"Keep your cars locked 100 percent of the time, keep your keys out of reach," Rollins said.

Rollins fought for preventative legislation. In 2021, a law was passed that required all new vehicles to have technology that detects if someone is still inside when the engine is off and alerts the driver. It hasn’t been implemented though. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not written the regulation yet.

"Any delay for something like this is unacceptable. We’re talking about children’s lives here," Rollins said.

Rollins said they will continue to fight until the technology is in every vehicle.

If you see a child in a hot car, call 911 immediately.