Look Again: State Leaders Unite for DECAL’s Hot Cars Awareness Campaign

June 8, 2015

In about 10 minutes, the inside of a car can reach life-threatening temperatures on a hot summer day in Georgia, increasing risks for injuries or deaths associated with extreme heat.

Hot cars and heat-related health risks are a threat to the more than 375,000 children in Georgia child care programs that provide transportation services every day, which is why the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is advising all caregivers to look again after reaching your destination.

Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., joined DECAL Commissioner, Amy M. Jacobs, for a news conference in support of the “Look Again” hot cars awareness campaign with Gov. Nathan Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal and host of other state leaders and child advocates.

On the steps of the State Capitol, Georgia leaders united to raise awareness about vehicular heatstroke. According to DECAL, 30 children in the nation died from being left in hot cars last year, including two children in Georgia.

Heatstroke occurs when the body is unable to properly cool after being exposed to extreme temperatures. Heatstroke is an annual summertime threat to everyone exposed to high temperatures, but the risk is even greater for children.

A child’s body does not possess the same type of internal temperature control as an adult, enabling their body temperature to increase three to five times faster than an adult.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide data, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related death in children age 14 and under. Also, more than 500 children ages 14 and under are seen in emergency rooms for heat exhaustion in cars each year.

DECAL recommends creating a system to never leave a child behind in a hot car by examining the front, back and underneath car seats. After the first check has been completed, look again. You should immediately conduct a second check or have someone else thoroughly review the vehicle to ensure all passengers are accounted for.

Drivers should also keep vehicles locked at all times – whether the vehicle is parked in a driveway or garage.

In the event you find a child left in a hot car, DECAL urges everyone to call 9-1-1 for help immediately – that one phone call could be the difference between life and death for a child in need.

“Any first responder would tell you they’d far rather respond to a false alarm than deal with the loss of a child because no one did anything,” said Dr. Fitzgerald. “We all live in very busy times. Multi-tasking has become a way of life. If you’ve ever set a cup of coffee or a purse on top of your car - something in plain view - and taken off without noticing, think how easy it could be to forget a small child sleeping in the back seat. It can happen to anyone, at any time.”

DECAL and all child advocates reiterate that the message to avoid leaving children unattended in hot cars is not exclusive to child care providers – it’s a call for anyone responsible for transporting children to always remain vigilant.

Visit DECAL online to learn more about the “Look Again” hot cars campaign and view safe child transportation recommendations. 

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