This time of year, Emergency Room physician Dr. Lillian Liao is always worried that the next patient to come into University Hospital will be a toddler who has been left in a hot car, 1200 WAOI news reports.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus today kicked off a summer long effort to stress to parents, grandparents, and caregivers to check the car, and make sure there is not a child in the car when they get out.
"Leaving a child in a vehicle not only carries a huge potential for causing injury or death, it could also net you stiff criminal penalties with prison time and large fines," McManus said.
Dr. Liao says the most common reason for a child being left in a car is that the caregiver simply forgot.
"Caregivers, not remembering the fact that they had a child in the back seat, and then went about their normal day," she said.
She says its also not uncommon for a child to be 'playing' especially in the back of a van or SUV, and then the caregiver, who is thinking of other things, simply forgets the child is in there.
After only ten minutes, the interior temperature of a car becomes 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature, and in days like this when it's 95 degrees outside, that can cause permanent brain damage and death quickly.
"You can have symptoms of nausea and vomiting, headaches can develop, and most severely, you can have seizures," she said.
In only 18% of cases of children dying in the back of hot vehicles did the caregiver intentionally leave the child there, usually to 'just run in for a second.' In 52% of cases, the child was 'forgotten' by a busy parent.
Police will immediately smash the window glass of a car with a child inside, even if that child has only been there for a second.