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What to do if you find a child in a hot car

Fort Worth police and paramedics explain how to safely break a car window and what to do next.

FORT WORTH, Texas — When it comes to vehicular heat stroke, every second counts. 

That’s why police and paramedics joined forces Tuesday at Medstar headquarters to explain what to do if a child is trapped in a hot car and how quickly heat stroke can turn deadly.

“It absolutely can happen in a course of minutes,” said Dr. Veer Vithalani, the medical director of Medstar.

Fort Worth police say if you come across a child in a hot car take action.

Call 911

  • The most important thing is to get emergency response to the location
  • Stay on the line.

Approach the car

  • Try opening all of the doors.
  • If they are all looked and the child is unresponsive or in distress you may need to force your way into the car.
Credit: WFAA

Break the window

  • Find a sharp object, like a strong knife or window punch.
  • Pick a door window that is furthest away from the child to prevent injuries from breaking glass.
  • Hold the sharp object against the glass and hit it with a blunt object or your hand if necessary.
  • Once broken, unlock the door and reach the child.

Once you remove the child from the car, Medstar says take the following steps.

Cool the child immediately 

  • Take the child into an air-conditioned space if there is one nearby.
  • Begin passive cooling with fans or air conditioners.
  • Active cooling can be done with ice packs in the armpits, back of the neck or groin.
  • If the child is unresponsive or not breathing, send someone to receive an Automated External Defibrillator and begin CPR.
Credit: WFAA


  • Lay the child on a hard flat surface, being careful not to place them directly on the hot pavement.
  • Take your middle two fingers of one hand and place it in the center of the child’s chest, between the nipples.
  • Press downward, aiming for about 1/3 of the way of the depth of the child’s chest.
  • Perform 30 compressions at a rate of about 2 compressions per second.
  • After 30 compressions place your mouth over the child’s mouth and nose and give two breaths, just strong enough to see their chest rise and fall.
  • Alternate compressions and rescue breathing until paramedics arrive.

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