LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Every year, an average of 38 children die from being left in hot cars according to CASA of the Pines officials. 17 have already died this year in the United States and three here in Texas.
Meanwhile, a recent trend has people participating in the "Hot Car Challenge" by sitting in cars for long periods of time then posting a video online. But law enforcement wants to bring the focus back to the real danger that leaving a child in a hot car presents.
Sergeant David Casper with Lufkin Police got into a car to demonstrate just how fast temperatures climb inside on a 92-degree Texas summer day.
After just five minutes, the temperature inside reached 118 degrees
"You know the sweat is already starting to come down pretty bad actually. It feels so stuff, and I can barely breathe," Casper said.
Casper said it got real hot, real quick and said there is no way he would do this for any kind of challenge.
"There's no way. Especially these people doing this hot car challenge," said Casper. "I think you've got to be crazy to do it. The reason we came out here is hopefully to save a child's life. I have no problem doing that, but as far as putting a video on Youtube, that's crazy."
For 15 minutes, Casper sat inside the vehicle enduring a top temperature of 135 degrees because he wants the public to focus on the real issue, which is protecting children.
"You may think only five or 10 minutes leaving your kid in the car it's going to be okay. A small child - I don't know if they can handle it," Casper said.
And Lufkin Police are taking reports of children being left in hot cars very seriously -s o seriously, you could end up behind bars.
"I believe there have already been a few arrests made, and if we catch you, then yes, you will be arrested," Casper said.
Members of Child Protective Services (CPS), the Texas Department of Transportation, CASA, and Lufkin Police are part of the Child Fatality Review Team whose job is to investigate these type of incidents and protect children in the future.
"These deaths are tragic and avoidable, and we want to make sure to try and get that number down to zero," said Natalie Thornton with CASA of the Pines. Thornton is also a member of the Child Fatality Review Team.
"A lot of times in East Texas, people don't realize how hot it can get inside a car and how quick it will get hot. The temperatures you saw reached 135 in about 15 minutes. That's unbearable for a child of any age," said Steven Abbott with Lufkin Police and member of the Child Fatality Review Team.
Lufkin Police officials say there are different laws that apply to different scenarios of children being left alone in cars but the general message to take away is to never leave any living being in a vehicle for any amount of time.