Blogs » The Blotter » It's hot: Be safe and don't leave your children or pets in the car

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As the public safety reporter for the Victoria Advocate, I'm always reading as much as I can about issues I think readers would be interested in. Lately, I've read a lot about children and animals being left in a vehicle. As a reporter who has an ear glued to the scanner, I know this also is an issue in Victoria.

It’s Texas.

It’s summer.

And it’s hot.

With that said, the increase in emergency calls about children and pets being left alone in vehicles are rising. Between January and Mid-June, officers with the Victoria Police Department responded to at least 21 calls about children being locked in a vehicle or cruelty to animals.

These calls were phoned in from all over Victoria, including the H-E-B grocery store on East Rio Grande Street, Target, a Stripes convenience store and even from Citizens and DeTar Hospital parking lots.

This Sunday, police were called to a location in the 500 block of North Navarro Street because a dog was locked in a vehicle with the windows rolled up. According to National Weather Services, between 2 and 3 p.m. (the time of the call), it was 90 degrees outside with humidity at 56 percent. Luckily, the dog did not suffer injury.

The temperature inside a car on a mild day can rise 20 degrees above the outside temperature in 10 minutes or less, according to the Victoria County website. Leaving a child in a vehicle is a Class C misdemeanor with charges that can go up to abandoning or endangering a child or injury to a child, Crime Prevention Officer John Turner said.

In 2013, 44 children in the United States died from vehicle-related heat deaths, according to kidsandcars.org, and since 1990, 717 children have died the same way. Results of a recent survey published on the non-profit's website reported that of the 44 deaths; 14 percent of parents intentionally left their child in the car, 11 percent admitted to forgetting their child in the car and nearly one in four parents of a child younger than 3 has forgotten a child in the car.

Officer Turner said if someone sees a child or an animal locked in a car to call police. He also said some wrecker companies will come out and unlock the vehicle's doors for free. I did a quick call of some of the Victoria wrecker companies, and while some do not offer that service, Mid-Coast Wrecker Service (361-573-7624) and Coby's Auto & Wrecker Services (361-580-2629) both do.

Pouring through articles online and with child safety advocacy groups, I've found a lot of advice to ensure a child or animal is never left in a vehicle. My favorite one was leaving your left shoe in the back seat. I don't know about you, but I'd realize something was missing when my toes hit that hot concrete.

Be safe and have a great summer.