Don’t leave kids unattended in parked cars

7/11/2014, 6 a.m.

Leaving kids unattended in a parked car is a bad idea, and the DeKalb Board of Health has launched a “Beat the Heat” awareness campaign to remind parents and caregivers never to do it.

So far this year, 14 children, including 22-month-old Cooper Harris of Marietta, have died after being left in hot cars in Georgia.

Cooper was left by his father, Justin Ross Harris, in his silver Hyundai Tucson SUV for hours on June 18. Harris, who went to work for seven hours at the Home Depot corporate headquarters in Smyrna, said he forgot to drop the toddler off at day care. He has been charged in the child’s death.

The Board of Health kicked off its sixth annual campaign on July 1 with a demonstration of how quickly a car’s interior can heat up and become very dangerous for its occupants.

S. Elizabeth Ford

S. Elizabeth Ford

Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, the district health director and a board-certified pediatrician, said the deadly scene plays out far too often.

“Unfortunately, we’ve all experienced this scenario,” Ford said. “You stop for a quick dash into a local convenience store, leaving someone in the car, and suddenly those few minutes can easily turn into 20 or 30 and become quite deadly.”

She said the Beat the Heat campaign provides tips on how to avoid heat sickness.

“People at special risk include infants, children, the elderly, people with chronic medical conditions or who experience homelessness and those who work outdoors or who play sports,” Ford said.

Heat-related symptoms may include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting and fainting.

Health officials encourage people to watch for these signs and seek medical care immediately.

For more information, visit www.dekalbhealth.net and www.cdc.gov/nceh/extreme heat or call 404-294-3700.


‘Beat the Heat’ tips

Cars can heat up pretty quickly on hot days. Follow these tips to keep children and others safe.

  • Never leave infants, children, the elderly or people with a chronic illness in a parked car.
  • Pets should not be left in parked cars – even if the windows are down.
  • Always lock a parked car so that young children don’t enter by themselves.
  • Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading it. Don’t overlook sleeping children especially during day care outings or family vacations.
  • If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach children never to use a car as a play area.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Make sure to drink more water than usual when outdoors and don’t wait until a person is thirsty to give them more.
  • Regularly apply sunscreen on children as indicated on the package.
  • Seek medical care immediately if anyone experiences the symptoms of heat illness.
  • Keep an eye out for children, seniors, and/or pets in hot parked vehicles. If you believe that an occupant is in danger of heat illness, call 911 or the local fire department for assistance.