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ECSO starts campaign to prevent kids from being left in hot cars

POSTED: May 29, 2014 6:35 p.m.

Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie and the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office are promoting the “Look Again” initiative to prevent children from being locked in cars during the hot summer months.

The campaign, launched Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal and other state leaders, urges parents, child care providers and the public to check more than once to make sure a child is not left unattended in a hot car.

“This campaign is looking to bring awareness just to keep an eye out for children who may be in a locked car that’s not running,” said ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.

Since 2010, seven Georgia children have died of heat stroke after being left unattended in cars, according to state officials. Earlier this week, a metro Atlanta daycare owner and her daughter were sentenced to jail time in the death of a 2-year-old girl who was left in a van on a hot day in June 2011.

The campaign encourages people to call police if they see a child unattended in a hot car, rather than looking the other way and thinking it’s none of their business.

“It is,” Ehsanipoor said. “We can’t be everywhere. Things happen, and we also depend on the community with extra sets of eyes out there. And that could be extra sets of eyes for us.”

On a 90-degree day, the temperature inside a car can rise to 109 degrees in just 10 minutes, according to The Weather Channel. While the outdoor temperature remains constant at 90 degrees, the inside of the car can heat up to 119 after 20 minutes and 124 after 30 minutes.

By the 60-minute mark, the temperature inside the car can escalate to 133 degrees — 43 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.

Effingham County deputies will help raise “Look Again” awareness and also keep an eye on vehicles in parking lots for children left inside.

“Children being left in unattended vehicles is an all-too-common call for service we receive during the summer months in our area,” Ehsanipoor said.

But, he pointed out, not every occurrence is a result of negligence. With remote and keyless technology, a vehicle might not lock until well after the driver has walked away from it.

“You could accidentally lock a child in,” Ehsanipoor said. “In that 30 seconds or a minute, there could be a child who climbs in that car, and you can lock that car without even knowing you’ve locked a child inside.”

As a side note to the campaign, Ehsanipoor urged parents not to leave children unattended with the engine running, either. Leaving a car running with a child inside while the driver goes into a store for “just a couple minutes” creates a different potential problem, Ehsanipoor cautioned — a thief could take the car and the child.

“Take a few extra minutes and take your child out of that car, lock the car, and go about your business, and you could possibly save a child’s life,” he said.

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