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Editorial: Protect Children, Animals in Hot Summer Weather

— In light of recent incidents around the region, Fairfax County is reminding people of dangers involving children and hot cars. The combination of summer heat and humidity can mean life-threatening conditions for children left in vehicles or other unsuitable environments, even for short time periods. Here’s advice from the Kids and Cars organization:

  • Never leave children alone in a vehicle — not even for a minute. Body temperatures in children rise three to five times faster than in adults. On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. Anyone seeing a child in distress in a parked car should contact police immediately.

  • Parents should make arrangements in advance with their child’s daycare or babysitter to always call if the child isn’t there as scheduled.

  • Recognize the symptoms of heatstroke. If a child shows signs such as heavy breathing, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, fever, dizziness, restlessness or excessive thirst, contact a physician immediately or call 9-1-1. Take steps to reduce the child’s body temperature immediately.

For more information, see www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/blog.

WATCH PETS IN THE HEAT

Fairfax County Animal Control Officers have responded to dozens of reports of animals in hot cars in recent weeks — one dog even died due to apparent heat hyperthermia — and urge people to keep their pets at home on hot days. With continuing heat and humidity through the summer, pet owners are urged to take precautions with their animals to avoid life-threatening conditions for animals left in vehicle.

  • Never leave pets in a parked car. On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. Anyone seeing an animal in distress in a parked car should contact police.

  • Shade and water are vital to pets. Pet owners must provide adequate shelter protecting animals from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight, and adverse effects of heat or cold. A doghouse in the backyard with no access to shade doesn’t protect animals from sun.

  • Limit exercise on hot days. Take care to adjust intensity and duration of exercise. Watch for shortness of breath and remember that asphalt gets very hot and can burn paws; walk dogs on the grass, if possible.


  • Recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses. If a pet shows heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, fever, dizziness, restlessness, excessive thirst and profuse salivation, contact a veterinarian immediately. Take steps to reduce the animal’s body temperature. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck and chest, provide water and ice cubes for hydration, and move the animal into the shade or air conditioning.