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Child hot car death toll increases

Five kids in the U.S. have died this year after being left in a hot car according to the Department of Transportation.

TYLER, Texas — Johnny Humphreys will never forget the parents he's met who lost a child after forgetting them in a hot car.

"The ones that I knew were just, of course, heartbroken. It changed their lives," Humphreys said. 

Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dale Peterson has seen things he wish he didn't have to.

"Many times," he remembered. "I mean, you can see the sweat coming off the kid inside the car."

It's a tragedy from all angles and these men say it can happen to anyone.

Humphreys, the chair of the Texas Heat Stroke Task Force, said the most common reasons children die in a hot car are because someone forgot about them, the child snuck into the car and couldn't get out or the driver left them in the car not realizing how dangerous that decision would be.

Sgt. Jean Dark with the Texas Department of Public Safety said when it's 80 degrees outside, the inside of a car can heat up to 100 degrees in less than 20 minutes.

"The law in Texas is you cannot leave a child unattended in a vehicle who's under 7 years of age for more than five minutes,' Dark said. 

To help drivers remember, the Texas Heatstroke Task Force suggests leaving something important in the backseat like your cellphone or purse.

"The other thing to do would be if you do have a child with a child seat, is to take a stuffed animal and keep it in the empty child seat in the back," Humphreys said. "And then when you put your child and the child seat, take the animal, stuffed animal and put it in front with you."

The toy would serve as a visual reminder that the child is still in their car seat. 

Officials said this advice applies to everyone who could be vulnerable. 

"Especially as hot as it is outside, not only children but pets and elderly as well," Dark added. 

RELATED: East Texas starts summer with three county-wide burn bans

RELATED: Toyota using new technology to prevent hot car deaths

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