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A disturbing and deadly summertime hazard has been appearing in headlines across the nation: children left unattended in hot cars.

Maybe it’s better news coverage and information dissemination, but it seems more parents and child care givers are negligently leaving their children trapped in a hot car.

Last year, nine Texas children died as a result of heat exhaustion in a car; more than any other state. The average age of these children was 2 years old. Children left in the car or daycare van are completely helpless as the temperature rises. “As a child who is completely defenseless strapped in a car seat unable to hydrate themselves, the only thing this child could do is scream…,” said Corporal Scott Perry of the Austin Police Department.

Temperatures inside of a closed vehicle reach life-threatening highs in such a short amount of time. This rise in temperature, mixed with a child’s heat-regulating system, is a deadly combination. A core body temperature of 107 degrees is considered lethal; anything over 98 degrees begins to damage cell and internal organs. So why are children left unattended? Many caregivers simply crack the windows while running quick errands, thinking children will be fine with a small amount of airflow. Others simply forget their children are in the backseat. Regardless of the reason, a caregiver’s top priority should be maintaining the safety of the children.

Parents and caregivers who intentionally leave their children in the car or childcare van are more liable to be tried for negligence than a parent or caregiver who simply forgets their child. This is not an excuse. Care givers should err on the side of caution, maintaining a regular headcount and whereabouts of children at all times. These devastating deaths and injuries can all be prevented very easily. Parents: do not leave your children in the car, even for a short amount of time. Never leave your child unattended in the car while you shop, or run any quick errand. Take the child with you. Upon returning home or to the child care facility, take the child inside first, then accomplish whatever tasks you need afterward. Awareness is key, and can help decrease these accidents.

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