Houston Fire Department

Look Before You Lock

Look Before You Lock
In an effort to prevent the tragedy of a child being left in a hot vehicle, the Houston Fire Department and State Farm Insurance remind parents and caregivers “Look before You Lock".

More than 550 children have perished in the United States since 1998 due to being left or trapped in vehicles and from 2009 – 2011, the HFD responded to nearly 100 children under 8 left in cars.

“The Houston Fire Department’s overall goal is to make sure no more children will die because they were left unattended in a vehicle,” says HFD Senior Captain Ruy Lozano.

If children are trapped inside cars, it can result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke, leading to permanent disability or death in a matter of minutes. Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, can cause shock, seizures, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and damage to the brain, liver and kidneys.

National Stats indicate that even on “mild” days or if the window is “cracked” the inside of a vehicle can reach nearly 120 degrees. And remember children are more sensitive to heat, causing heat stroke.

More than 50 percent of these children who perished while locked in cars were simply "forgotten" by the caregiver. Statistics also indicate that about 30 percent of these were due to children playing in an unattended vehicle and nearly 20 percent were due to caregivers intentionally leaving their children in the vehicle.

HFD recommends that parents and caregivers place their purse, phone, computer or wallet in the back seat as a reminder that they have a child in the car.

Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver and have a plan with the childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for school.

Children are also locked in hot cars due to them playing in the car while it is parked. Citizens should always lock their car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices and children should be taught that cars are not a place for play.

If anyone sees an unattended child in a car, they should call 911 and stay until help arrives.