SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – For the seventh year in a row, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is calling for families and caregivers to be aware of the dangers of leaving children alone in cars.
This year’s “Look Again” campaign aligns with National Heatstroke Prevention Day on July 1 to ensure that people know how to prevent pediatric vehicular heatstroke, DECAL says.
“As more Georgians are getting back on the road, it is critically important to remember that our children are our most precious cargo,” said Governor Brian P. Kemp. “That’s why Marty and I stand with the Department of Early Care and Learning in urging everyone to ‘Look Again’ and protect the health and safety of Georgia’s children. Please join us in following these simple steps to make a difference and save lives.”
According to DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs, more than 337,000 children in Georgia are cared for daily by approximately 4,500 child care providers, most of whom regularly transport children. In the U.S., 52 children died from pediatric vehicular heatstroke in 2019. So far, six have died in 2020.
“When we receive reports of children left in vehicles by providers, we investigate each incident,” Jacobs explained. “During FY2019, 19 children were left in vehicles by child care providers statewide. In FY2020, nine children have been left. Thankfully all of these children survived, but one child left unattended in a vehicle is one child too many, and, despite our best efforts, these numbers show we cannot become complacent.”
DECAL says the “Look Again” message is not only for child care programs and teachers, but is also for parents, grandparents, other family members, neighbors and friends.
“When you arrive at your destination, check the front and back of your car, and after you’ve looked, just to be sure, Look Again. There is absolutely no reason for a child to suffer or die in these conditions,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs said technology is helping the effort to keep children safe.
“Sensors in car seats and vehicles and phone apps like Waze signal reminders when you reach your destination,” she said. “These technological resources help build habits to check the backseat after driving. And if these aren’t options, you can place a stuffed animal in your passenger seat as a reminder that your child is in the back.”
Officials are also reminding the public to act responsibly and quickly if they see a child left alone in a car by calling 911 immediately.