The horrible incident of a hot-car death in Georgia should have us all concerned about the vulnerability of children and pets in hot weather.
What’s doubly horrible about the death of the 22-month-old toddler named Cooper is that his father is suspected of leaving the child in that hot car on purpose. The mind reels with revulsion at such a vile possibility.
Whatever the case, it’s a terrible way to die. Most adults know first-hand how oppressive it is just to open the door of a car that has been parked in the hot sun for any length of time. And yet, time and again, some parents leave children or pets in a car while on shopping trips or other errands. Some foolishly believe if they “crack open the window a bit,” it will make the car more comfortable. It does not.
Innocent young children and pets, who of course do not know how to open car doors, can get debilitating heat stroke or suffer death within minutes if they are stuck in a vehicle with the sun blazing down on a hot day. Most people understand that; others, sadly, do not.
It’s devastating to think how many children and pets have died in hot cars. It’s just as disturbing to imagine how many have suffered terribly long, agonizing moments in a stifling car waiting for their parent or owner to come back.
A child should never be left alone in a car, period, in whatever weather. Dogs, too, are better left at home, especially on hot days if they are going to be left in vehicles even for short periods of time. People have got to start learning: Do not do it!
However, in the meantime, good Samaritans should learn to be vigilant and aware. If they see or hear children or pets clearly in distress in a hot car, they should take immediate action. Call 911 at once. If the situation looks drastic, a bystander should try opening one of the vehicle’s doors until law-enforcement arrives. People unwilling to try opening the vehicle should at least go into a nearby store or residence and report what they have seen so the police and/or emergency medical personnel can be summoned.
All parents or guardians should work out a foolproof system that would prevent leaving a child accidentally in a hot death-trap vehicle. They should work out a call system between husband and wife and with daycare owners so a definite confirmation of a child drop-off can be ascertained daily. In addition, it’s vitally important for a parent or guardian to do a visual check inside the car before they get out and go about their business.
In the case of dogs, there is another terrible hot-weather endangerment that goes on far more than we’d like to think. Some dogs are tied up on scratchy patches of yard with the sun beating down on them. Some have dog shelters that are nothing but brutally hot “boxes” without ventilation. Often, the dog’s water dish is empty or filled with stale, putrid water. Bugs and summer storms can also beset these poor pets, causing them ‘round-the-clock misery. These people should not own dogs, period. Why they would keep a “pet” in such misery is beyond comprehension.
And so, once again, we should be vigilant Good Samaritans. If you know of a dog or other animal in such dire, miserable conditions, call the police or the sheriff’s department. You might also want to have a friendly chat with the pet’s owner, saying you’d be glad to help make the dog’s life a bit more comfortable and happy.
These innocent children and pets cannot speak up for themselves. Therefore, responsible, caring people must be determined to speak for them.