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Children, Pets and Vehicles: Safety Matters (Health Information)

Guilford County Department of Public Health and Guilford County Animal Control are reminding residents that leaving children and pets alone in automobiles is not only extremely dangerous, it is also illegal.
According to Safe Kids USA, children are at serious risk for heat stroke, also called hyperthermia, when left alone even for a few minutes in a closed vehicle. In 2008, at least 42 children across the United States died from heat stroke caused by being left or trapped in a vehicle. According to the ASPCA, pets can suffer from dehydration and heat stroke if overexposed to the heat, with heat stroke being fatal if not treated promptly.
Research results by San Francisco State University showed even with relatively cool temperatures outside—70 degrees—the inside of a car can reach a dangerous temperature in just minutes. The temperature inside of a vehicle can rise 19 degrees above the outside temperature in just 10 minutes. After an hour, the temperature inside and outside of a vehicle can differ by 45 degrees or more – even if the window is left open a crack.

Guilford County Animal Control Officers are already receiving numerous reports
of pets being left in vehicles in store parking lots, shopping malls, and other locations.  Guilford County Animal Control Officers are strongly encouraging pet owners to leave their pets at home during these hot summer days.  They also want to take this opportunity to remind pet owners that all pets need fresh water daily, food & secure shelter and that they will not hesitate to rescue an animal that is in imminent danger. 

The Department of Public Health and SAFE Guilford are also asking parents and caregivers of children to practice these additional tips to keep children safe in and around vehicles:

• Keep your keys out of reach of children.  Keep your vehicle doors and trunk locked when your car is parked, even in your own driveway or garage.  Children have suffocated playing in the closed trunk of a vehicle.

• Avoid leaving your keys in the car. If the keys are left in the vehicle, or the vehicle is left unlocked, someone could steal the vehicle with your child in it.

• Be sure someone is with your child in the vehicle.  If left alone, your child could put the vehicle in gear and it could move. The vehicle could hit or run over something or somebody. Your child could get tangled in something and strangle, or choke if eating or drinking.

• Make sure all children are out of the vehicle before you leave it, especially if transporting children is not your normal routine.

• If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call the local police immediately.  You do not know how long the driver has been gone.
For more information about pet safety, contact Guilford County Animal Control at 641-5990. For more information about child safety, contact Guilford County Department of Public Health at 641-7777.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 2:47 pm and is filed under Children, Pets and Vehicles: Safety Matters (Health Information) in DPH Latest News, Children's Health, Animal Health . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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