Hyperthermia Dangers in Texas

Prevent Hot Car Deaths in Texas

thermometer

What is hyperthermia?

Hyperthermia is a group of heat illnesses like heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heatstroke is when the body overheats and is unable to cool itself quickly enough. Heatstroke is the most severe form of hyperthermia. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), once a body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down.

Facts about hot cars and heatstroke

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths in children younger than age 15.

  • A child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's does.
  • Cars heat up quickly! In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees.
  • Cracking a window or air conditioning does little to keep the car cool once it is turned off.  

What you should know about hyperthermia in Texas

Texas is one of two states with the highest number of hot car deaths in children. As of 08/14/2023, the National Safety Council reported 16 deaths across the country, three in Texas. The top three circumstances:

  • Caregiver forgot the child;
  • Child gained access on their own; and
  • Caregiver knowingly left the child in the car.

Texas Law

Leaving a Child in a Vehicle (Penal Code Chapter 22.10) - A person commits an offense if he (or she) intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes knowing that the child is:

  • Younger than age 7; and
  • Not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is age 14 or older.  

Tips for caregivers  

  • Teach children not to play in or around cars.
  • Never leave a child unattended in or around a car. Make a habit of looking in the front and back seat of the car before locking the door and walking away.
  • Never assume it can't happen to you or your child. A change in routine or busy schedule can cause a caregiver to forget that a child is still in the car.
  • If you cannot find a child, check the pool and water sources first, then check vehicles, including trunks.
  • If you see an unattended child in or around a car, call 911.

For more information and parent resources, please visit safekids.org/heatstroke    


Information for Safety Advocates

Safety advocates in Texas are encouraged to join the Texas Heatstroke Task Force (THTF).  

To join the Texas Heatstroke Task Force (THTF), email your name, occupation, organization (if applicable), and city to texasheatstroketaskforce@gmail.com. Write Join the THTF in the subject line.   

What you can expect as a THTF member: 

  • THTF will email heatstroke prevention information and updates. These updates contain news, statistics, and resources.
  • Help with obtaining temperature comparison displays for public events. Displays show the outside temperature as compared to the temperature inside a vehicle.
  • Rapid Response notifications will be sent if there is a child heatstroke in a vehicle death in Texas. This includes sample news releases and key information points.
  • THTF provides educational materials and presentations in downloadable formats, including social media. 

What you will be asked to do as a THTF member:

  • Include heatstroke prevention information as part of your day-to-day educational activities. This could include:
    • Child seat checkups (including virtual seat checks)
    • One-on-one counseling;
    • Presentations;
    • Media interviews;
    • Articles, conferences, and training sessions; and
    • Website updates. 
  • Periodically report your activities to the task force. Email your activities to THTF at info@txheatstroke.org

Resources  

Hyperthermia flyers

English Hyperthermia Flyer Spanish Hyperthermia Flyer

 English Hyperthermia Flyer (PDF)

 Spanish Hyperthermia Flyer (PDF)

Find links to other hyperthermia flyers here

For more information about this or other motor vehicle safety tips, contact us at saferiders@dshs.texas.gov.  


The Texas Department of State Health Services does not endorse external links to other websites. These links are informational and may not be accessible to individuals with disabilities.