Help available for parents to avoid hot car death tragedies

Friday, June 10, 2016
Safety tips for keeping kids out of hot cars
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The temperatures outside are heating up and so are the temps inside your car.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The weather is heating up and so are the temperatures inside your car. On average, 37 children die every year because they were left in a hot vehicle.

Most of the time it's an accident, but there are things you can do to keep your family safe.

Like for so many in the line of duty, there are some days Fort Bend County Constable Trever Nehls will never forget.

That day? It was four years ago, back when he was a Sugar Land police officer.

"I had to visit or be called to a scene where a father had left his child in the backseat of the pickup truck, and the father didn't know about this for hours," Trever Nehls recalled.

The infant died from the horrific accident.

"If you are a parent, you take it to heart, you truly do. I had small children at the time, and I visualized myself or my wife in that situation," said Trever Nehls.

After that, Nehls started a "Look Before You Lock" campaign in Fort Bend County to get parents into the habit of checking for their children in the backseat. Now, he's helping educate parents again. He and his twin brother, Sheriff Troy Nehls, decided to demonstrate for abc13 what 30 minutes in a hot car does to our bodies.

"It can be 30-50 degrees hotter than the temperature outside," said Dr. Shannon Orsak of St. Michael's Emergency Room.

He continues, "We're going to see how their vital signs change while in the car as their body tries to regulate their temperature."

The day we tried this, the outside temperature was 85 degrees and partly cloudy.

"The temperatures in both cars -- the dash temperatures are sitting at 135-140 degrees," added Dwayne Chobotar, a nurse at St. Michael's Emergency Room.

After 30 minutes sitting in the stifling vehicles, both men got out.

"That experience very uncomfortable, obviously a lot of sweat," explained Troy Nehls.

"As you can see in my shirt and my pants, I'm wearing a dark shirt so you probably can't see it, but look at my pants and all across the seat, you can tell I was sweating profusely," said Trever Nehls.

Constable Trever Nehls saw a spike in heart rate and his blood pressure dropped some. Sheriff Troy Nehl's temperature jumped from normal to 99.4. His heart rate increased and his blood pressure dropped. A thirty minute experience that made him reflect.

"How does a child feel in the back of that vehicle wondering where mom, dad, brother sister are, who's there to get me? That would be very difficult situation to deal with compared to me sitting in the back seat being able to open the door at any time," Sheriff Troy Nehls said.

"Adults have a better ability to sweat, their body can regulate their temperature better than a child," explained Dr. Orsak.

Doctors say when a child's temperature reaches 103 degrees, they're in serious danger. At 107 degrees, the temperature is considered lethal.

"It can take as little as 15 minutes for a child to overheat in a car," explained Officer Lauren Stockholm with the Sugar Land Police Department.

In majority of cases, "It's not any fault of the parent. It's not that they're neglectful," she said.

But, there are ways to help prevent this from happening to you and your child.

"Set alarms, set reminders, there are a number of apps available now to remind you," said Stockholm.

Even remove a shoe.

"If you put your shoe in the back seat, so you're forced to look in your back seat, there's no way you'll leave it," added Stockholm.

There are also products out there that can help as reminders.

The MyCue bright yellow streamer helps create a habit to remind parents of their babies being in the back seat. It connects to your keychain when the baby is in the car. Then, when you remove the baby from the car, you connect it to the car seat.

The Baby Alert International ChildMinder Soft Clip system attaches a fastening clip to the child's car seat that is used to fast the baby into the car seat. Then, there's a fob that connects to the keychain. It's an alarm system, where, when the clip is fastened in the backseat, and a parent were to walk 15 to 18 feet away from the car, the alarm on the keychain sounds.

There are even car seats that remind parents that babies are in the car. The Evenflo SensorSafe Embrace DLX Infant Car Seat includes technology that generates a series of tones when the car is parked that reminds a parent that the baby is in the vehicle. The tones are activated through a smart chest clip and wireless receiver. The wireless receiver plug inserts into the vehicle's Onboard Diagnostic Port and communicates with the chest clip.

You can also find information from and For more heat stroke safety tips, CLICK HERE.