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Don’t Leave Me Behind: Remember kids, pets in cars this summer

LISTEN: Don't Leave Me Behind Kickoff

It’s that time of year to remember not to leave pets or kids in hot vehicles.

The “Don’t Leave Me Behind” awareness campaign, through the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, kicked off Tuesday. It’ll run through August 31st.

“Last year we endeavored to have another year of zero … Tragically, in the last weekend of the campaign, we had two deaths,” said county attorney Bill Montgomery. “This year, the emphasis is on getting back to zero.”

Dr. Todd Nickoles, a trauma program manager at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, warned parents to be careful, particularly when breaking their typical routine.

“We must not think that it can never happen to us. A lot of these times it happens to these families that are very caring, but they break their normal routine,” he said. “Somebody’s who’s not used to driving the child takes them to daycare, or something like that.”

He added that a car in the sun can heat up 20 degrees every 10 minutes. That’s not just during the hottest summer days; even in an 80-degree day, it can reach 110 degrees in less than 15 minutes.

At 104 degrees, a child starts to show symptoms of heat stroke and organs begin to fail.

If a child in your care is showing signs of heat stroke, Dr. Nickoles said, do not toss the child into an ice bath. Their temperature needs to reduce slowly.

“If there is a child that’s in distress because of the heat, the most important thing to do is to get them out of the heat as quickly as possible,” he said. “(Start) misting them with some water to let them cool off.”

That goes for pets, too.

“Bring them into a cool area, and then start cooling down their (paw) pads – like getting a wet towel, then putting it on them,” said Cynthia McGuire with the Arizona Humane Society. “Pets don’t have the ability to sweat like you and me do; they can hit those internal high temps a lot faster.”

This year, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is partnering with the Arizona Humane Society, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Penguin Air & Plumbing to bring awareness of the issue to a wider audience.

“This is something that is 100% preventable,” Montgomery said.

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