SAN ANGELO, Texas (KSAN) In Texas, it’s against the law to leave a child in a vehicle for more than five minutes, unless the child is accompanied by someone 14 or older.
“You need to protect them. Bring them with you. You get yourself out of the car,” said Zelinda & Arron Kristof, parents to two children.
In 2018 in the U.S., a record 52 children died from being trapped in a hot vehicle. As the summer months approach, it’s important to remember the dangers that leaving a child in a hot vehicle can pose. Infants are especially vulnerable, because they are unable to communicate or let themselves out of a vehicle.
“A lot of times people think it’s ok, I’m just gonna be out there 5 minutes,” said San Angelo Fire Department Chief, Brian Dunn.
“A vehicle’s temperature can heat up about 20 degrees every ten minutes. If it’s 80 degrees in there already and you get caught up in a conversation 10 minutes, you’re looking at 100 degrees now and that child can get a heatstroke,” said DPS Sgt, Justin Baker.
Not only is it dangerous to leave a child in a hot car– it’s also illegal.
“In the state of Texas it’s a violation of the law to leave a child in a vehicle that’s younger than 7, for more than 5 minutes, unless that child is accompanied by somebody that’s 14 years of age or older,” clarified Sgt. Baker.
The law applies even when a vehicle has been left with the engine running or the windows down.
“Even if you crack your windows in the vehicle, it still gets extremely hot in there. Those cars act like greenhouses,” added Chief Dunn.
If you come across a child that has been left in a hot car, Sgt. Baker suggests checking to see if they are responsive and calling 911 immediately.
“If the child is not interacting and is already suffering form heat exhaustion, by all means do what is necessary to get that child out of the vehicle,” expressed Sgt. Baker.
Sgt. Baker also advises parents to take extra measures when they are transporting their children to and from school or daycare if they don’t typically do it themselves, because you can never be too careful.
“There’s no justification for leaving a child in a hot car,” said Arron Kristof.
It’s also important to remember that pets are also vulnerable to the heat and should not be left in a hot vehicle for long periods of time.