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News > Commentary - Straight Talk: Children and pets in unattended hot cars
Straight Talk: Children and pets in unattended hot cars

Posted 8/4/2011   Updated 8/4/2011 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Col. Stacy L. Yike
66th Air Base Group commander

8/4/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- I hope everyone is enjoying the summer weather and activities. We have lots of events ongoing around the base, and the local community has tons more. Don't forget First Friday at the Tavern, formerly the Patriot Lounge, today and next week is Tops in Blue. If you haven't met your new next door neighbor yet, now is a great time to invite them over for a backyard barbecue. If you don't meet them now, it will be much harder to borrow their snow shovel this winter.

I know you are keeping safety tips in the forefront this summer-- for you, your family and even your pets. Many thanks to the Hanscom member who sent in a comment about pets in hot cars. New England does not experience many heat waves, but when it does, it is important that we remember how quickly a situation can become extremely critical.

Comment: I wanted to email and express my concern regarding an observation I made in the Brighton Marine Health Care parking lot this afternoon. As I was walking through the parking lot, I noticed a dog in a red SUV. The car windows were open a bit, just enough for the dog's head to protrude. At first, I ignored the observation, but then I decided to head back to the parking lot to check in on the dog, as it was hot. As I headed back to the parking lot, I saw the red SUV leave the parking lot. I didn't dare confront the driver, as I didn't want any trouble.

May I suggest a mass email be sent to our base population reminding them that this type of incident will not be tolerated? Although most of us have enough common sense to not lock a dog or child in a hot car, I believe a reminder to that small segment of our population who continue to do this will go far in helping lessen this problem.

Response: Thanks for the reminder. When the sun is shining, temperatures can rise to 100-plus degrees in a closed vehicle, increasing 20 degrees Fahrenheit from ambient temperature within the first 10 minutes. In the U.S. alone, 50 children died of heat stroke in 2010 because they were left in hot cars. Anyone inside the vehicle is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses, brain damage or death. Remember the following tips:

· Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
· To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
· When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.

What action do you take if you suspect heat stroke?
· Lower the body temperature immediately.
· Move into the shade and apply cool water all over to gradually lower body temperature.
· Apply ice packs or cold towels to head, neck and chest only.
· Offer small amounts of cool water or ice cubes.
· Seek medical treatment

If you see children or an animal in a car exhibiting any signs of heat stress, call your local police department or security forces for assistance. Be safe!

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