DPS, WFPD warns of dangers of leaving children and pets in hot cars

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Every year children die from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle unattended and with higher temperatures upon us The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Wichita Falls Police Department is warning residents such negligence could lead to criminal charges.

Temperatures inside a car can rise more than 20 degrees in only ten minutes and even with an outside temperature of 60 degrees the temperature inside a car can reach 110.

"It's actually a nightmare of mine to forget that my kids are with me and then find them in the car," a Wichita Falls Mom, Emily Love said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children,
so for Love, taking the extra five minutes to take her kids with her inside a store is worth it.

"Every time I get in the car, I sit in the car by myself for about ten, fifteen seconds without the air on and I think to myself what if I was sitting in here for two minutes or five minutes," Love said. "If I can't handle it at 30 seconds they can't handle it for the five minutes that it's taking you to run inside."

The Founder of Emily's Legacy Rescue, Kimber Hopkins is also reminding dog owners that their furry friends suffer from heatstroke's too and leaving the windows down or parking in the shade is not enough to prevent it.

"Leave your animal at home," Hopkins said. "If the animal is brachycephalic which means they have a smooshed face, the heat is really more susceptible on them and they don't last as long as the ones with a longer nose, and die faster."

Sgt. Harold McClure with WFPD encourages everyone to call 9-1-1 if they see a child or pet alone in a vehicle.

In fact he said it's not only dangerous for the child but it's illegal to leave a kid who's under seven without being supervised by someone who is older than 14 years old.

"Most of these stories that come out it's simply they forgot that the child was in there," Sgt. McClure said. "Be very careful when you have that child with you. They cannot defend themselves or take care of themselves so that's what we are there for, that's what the parents are there for, so let's slow down and make sure that everybody is safe."

If a child goes missing DPS encourages everyone to open the doors and trunks to every vehicle in the area because many heatstroke deaths occur when a child gets into a parked car unnoticed.

DPS also wants everyone to always check the back seats of your vehicle before walking away. You can even set reminders by leaving your bag, lunch or cell phone in the back seat with the child's car seat.

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