100% preventable tragedies

We’re all in the hot seat when it comes to keeping kids cool enough

It’s a self-preservation mechanism to imagine that tragedies — big and small — always happen elsewhere. But there was an incident last week in downtown Fredericksburg that reminds us that horrible things can just as easily happen at home.

On a 99-degree afternoon, a teenager parked on Main Street and entered a local shop preoccupied with whatever might preoccupy a young mind.

For at least 20 minutes, she was in air conditioning while her young sibling was in the car outside, with doors locked and windows up.

A “greenhouse” effect can cause the inside of a car to heat up very quickly, even when the temperature outside is mild or the windows are cracked, according to the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Within 20 minutes, an average car’s interior can spike about 29 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.

Within an hour, it can surpass the outside temperature by 43 degrees.

So, on a 99-degree day, as it was last week, that would have put a car’s interior temperature at 128 degrees after 20 minutes and up to 142 degrees at the hour mark — surpassing by eight degrees the hottest outdoor temperature recorded on Earth (134 degrees posted July 10, 1913, in aptly-named Furnace Creek, California.)

Such heat is not hard to comprehend for anyone who has seen the video of a man sun baking cookies on his 174-degree dashboard or who has endured the bare-handed pain of a blazing hot steering wheel.

What makes things worse is that kids are particularly susceptible to heat stroke since their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults.

When their body temperature hits 104 degrees, heat stroke sets in, causing dizziness, lethargy, red, hot and dry skin, seizures, headache, nausea and a possible loss of consciousness. A child’s organs start shutting down at a body temperature of 104 degrees, and, at 107 degrees, he/she will die.

Thankfully last week, passers-by noticed the child in distress and came to his aid in time to save him.

Fredericksburg Police Department (FPD) officers and Child Protective Services were expected to investigate further.

FPD Chief Steve Wetz said this is the second call of this type here this summer.

How could someone take the chance of letting a little loved one die so miserably? It happens all too frequently. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there are about 38 hot car-related child deaths each year in America.


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Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228