Aug 2, 2013 Post By: Children's Health

Hot Car Safety for Kids Takes Community Involvement
Dad of heart-transplant patient called 911 after seeing three kids locked inside a parked car in a Walmart parking lot. Community involvement is important to hot car safety for kids

In May, Scott Lewis stopped by Walmart in Lewisville for a quick shopping trip. On the way back to his car, his keen awareness saved three lives.

Scott remembers the events of May 6 just like it was yesterday. That day impacted him even more than a typical parent since his daughter was waiting for a much-needed heart transplant. Read about this life-changing day in his own words:Scott Lewis and his daughter Brynn, a heart transplant patient at Children's Medical Center

“I'm the father of Brynn Lewis. Brynn is 3 1/2 years old and has had two heart transplants at Children's, the second one on May 29. She is doing very well with this new heart, and we cannot thank the donor family enough for what they gave us. Every child is precious and wonderful, and I really don’t understand why some people leave their kids in a hot car while they run into a store.

I was walking back to my car and noticed three small children in a car not running, windows rolled up and locked. One child was 4 months old; the other two were toddlers. I immediately called 911 and waited. The police and firefighters showed up and got the kids out to safety before the dad ever came out of the store with his purchase – a Mother’s Day card. It was about 85 degrees outside, and I know it was a lot hotter in the car."

[quote]Please, if you ever see kids locked in a hot car call the police.”[/quote]

While this father left the children in the hot car purposefully, many children die every year when caregivers inadvertently forget the child inside a hot car. Safe Kids Worldwide says that Texas leads the nation in hot-car deaths, and 52% of them are from children being forgotten.

Halim Hennes, M.D., medical division director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Children’s, says that the bodies of children heat up three to five times faster than an adult's. Since the temperature inside a car can increase more than 40% in less than an hour, it does not take long before death or permanent brain damage occurs.

Use These Hot Car Safety Tips:

  • Communicate planned absences to daycare providers.
  • Ask the daycare providers to call you if your child does not arrive on time and a planned absence has not been communicated.
  • Place your cell phone, briefcase, purse or other important item in the backseat before driving to your destination. This will get you in the routine of checking the backseat every day.

Thirty percent of the deaths in the U.S. occur when a child climbs into an unlocked vehicle without anyone noticing. Ways you can help promote hot car safety for kids include:

  • Before getting out of the car, check to be sure everyone is out, and lock all doors.
  • Once the car is parked in the garage or outside of the house, double check that all doors and the trunk are locked.
  • Remind friends and neighbors to always lock their car doors.

Read this Q&A from Children’s experts and Safe Kids Worldwide for more prevention tips.