Why Are Children Being Left in Hot Vans and Buses in Texas?
Texas leads the nation with the highest number of hot car and van deaths among children—between 1990 and 2021, nearly 150 children died in hot vehicles. Heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash deaths in children involving a car, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Unfortunately, many of the deaths that have happened over the last several decades could have been prevented. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 53% of hot vehicle deaths happen because someone forgot the child in a car. When parents drop their children off at Texas daycares, they have the right to expect their children will be supervised at all times, and if they are taken away from the facility, daycare providers will take extra care to ensure each child is always accounted for. However, we’ve seen that is not always the case, and sometimes that carelessness and neglect end tragically.
What Happens to Children Left in Hot Vans and Buses?
Being left alone in a hot car, van, or bus can have devastating consequences. Even with a window cracked, the inside of a car heats up very quickly—80% of the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes. It can also take just 10 minutes for a vehicle to increase in heat 20 more degrees—meaning in these extreme Texas temperatures, the inside of a bus or van could be nearly 130 degrees.
Extreme heat can pose a serious risk to all ages, but children are especially at risk, as kids’ bodies overheat three to five times faster than adults. There are different types of hyperthermia, which happens when the body can’t regulate its own temperature anymore. Heatstroke is the most severe, and it’s a life-threatening condition that can cause problems with the brain and other organs, and even led to death. There are several heat-related illnesses to be concerned about with young children:
- Heat cramps – often happen in arms, hands, lower legs, and feet. They’re often the result of losing a lot of electrolytes through sweating.
- Heat exhaustion – this is more serious than heat cramps and can lead to heatstroke. A child’s body temperature can reach as high as 104 degrees.
- Heatstroke – the most serious form of hyperthermia, as it can also be life-threatening. With heatstroke, a child’s body temperature reaches over 104 degrees, sometimes leading to problems with the brain and other organs.
When kids are left in a hot car, and the inside temperature increases rapidly, they will start to experience symptoms like blurred vision, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and even seizures. If children are left in a hot car, their major organs are at risk of shutting down when their body temperature reaches 104 degrees. Once a child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees, they can die.
Children experience the same serious impacts of heat exhaustion and heatstroke that adults do; however, it’s more likely for children to be affected in the first place. A child’s central nervous system is not fully developed, which means they are not able to regulate their own body temperature as well.
Long-term impacts of heatstroke can be serious—when it’s left untreated, damage to the brain, heart, and kidneys can happen. According to the Mayo Clinic, heatstroke must be treated quickly because the longer treatment is delayed, the worse the damage is. That increases the risk of serious complications and death.
How The Button Law Firm Can Help Families
If your child was left in a hot van or car, it’s important to get medical treatment as soon as possible in order to make sure there are not any long-term damages from being left in the vehicle. Depending on how long the child was in the car, they could also need ongoing treatment if any organs are damaged. Our team at The Button Law Firm may be able to help your family recover damages to cover the costs of expenses like:
- Immediate medical attention (ER visits)
- Future doctors’ visits
- Ongoing treatments and other medical care
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other mental and emotional injuries
How These Types of Incidents Can Be Prevented
It’s important to note that it’s very easy to prevent deaths and injuries from children being left in hot vans and cars. It is critical for daycares in Texas and across the country to have policies in place to ensure children are accounted for at all times, and especially in situations where they may be traveling in a van or bus.
In Texas, when daycare providers take children somewhere, they are required to have a list of all children being transported, along with emergency contact information for each child. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services also recommends that caregivers conduct multiple face-to-name checks to ensure children are not lost or left behind. Completing one of these checks after exiting the vehicle would greatly reduce the chance of a child being left in a hot car or van.
However, having these procedures in place is only helpful if daycare providers are trained in them and correctly follow them on a regular basis. Daycares must make sure they are enforcing the rules and properly disciplining staff who do not take the time to do so.
These incidents can also be prevented if daycares maintain a safe staff-to-child ratio. If there are enough caregivers to properly supervise each child, it’s far less likely that a child would be left on a bus or in a van.
How Quickly Should I Contact a Lawyer?
- If a parent or guardian wants to file a legal claim against the daycare, they must do so within the state’s statute of limitations. The laws about the statute of limitations vary from state to state, and it can also change depending on the type of case being filed. In Texas, a lawsuit must be filed within two years for most negligence claims. It’s best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the incident so the claim is filed before the state’s deadline.
Who Does The Button Law Firm Represent?
- Our team at The Button Law Firm is ready to help families of children who have been injured or killed after being left in a hot van. We have experience fighting for families of victims of daycare abuse and neglect, and our offices in Dallas, Houston, and Midland are ready to take on your case anywhere across Texas. We also take on cases selectively across the country.
How Can I Contact The BLF Team?
- We have many ways to get into contact with our team. You can contact our team by calling 214-699-4409 or fill out a contact form on our website. Someone from our team will be in touch.
Why Should You Choose The Button Law Firm?
- Our team at The Button Law Firm is dedicated to advocating for children harmed in daycares in Texas. We are ready to listen to you, advocate for you and your family, and help you hold negligent and abusive daycares accountable so you can move forward and find closure. See how we’ve been able to help past clients, and what they say about their experiences.