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Never Leave a Child in a Vehicle Unattended

Posted at 11:55 a.m.

Heatstroke is the number two killer of children behind car crashes. That’s why we’ve joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding you — especially parents and caregivers — about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.

As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises. According to, one child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle. In 2014 there were at least 30 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles. What is most tragic is that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.

Please remember these three things:

  1. Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
  2. Make it a habit to look in the backseat every time you exit the car.
  3. Always lock the car and put the keys out of reach.

Don't Forget to Look Before You Lock

If you are a bystander and see a child unattended in a vehicle:

  • Always make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • If the child appears ok, you should attempt to locate the parents; or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the public address system.
  • If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while someone waits at the car.
  • If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a window.

Never leave children unattended in vehiclesChildren’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.

Know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include:

  • Red, hot and moist or dry skin.
  • No sweating.
  • A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse.
  • Nausea.
  • Confusion or acting strangely.

If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose — never an ice bath. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

According to, 59 percent of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car; 29 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own. Remember to “look before you lock.”Look before you lock

Be Prepared for Back-to-School and Emergencies

Posted at 3:30 p.m. 

School BusThe end of summer brings the start of another school year, full of opportunity to get involved in fresh activities and learn something new. Deciding on new school supplies and planning the outfit you’ll wear on the first day of school is part of being prepared. But, are your child(ren) and family prepared for emergencies?

The back-to-school season also presents the opportunity to get prepared for emergencies, especially as family routines oftentimes change during the school year and disasters may not occur while family is together.

Do you and your children know the following information without cellphone access? Is it handy in wallets, backpacks, briefcases and more?

  • Family phone numbers.
  • Addresses for home, school and work.
  • Meeting location (one near your house and outside your neighborhood).
  • Out-of-state contact for household members to notify they are safe.

Inquire about emergency plans at places where your family frequently spends their time:

  • Work.
  • Daycare and school.
  • Houses of worship.
  • Sports arenas and venues.

Involving your children in making your family’s emergency plan helps them know what to do and reduces stress during times of emergency. Make your family emergency plan at

Shopping for school supplies? Pick up an extra backpack or use an old one and enjoy a family night of making emergency go-kits. Emergency kits need to be customized to each person’s individual needs.

Learn more about how to make an emergency kit at

Fairfax County Public Schools Closed Tuesday, March 4

All Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will be closed on Tuesday, March 4. School offices will be open with an unscheduled leave policy in effect. School Age Child Care (SACC) centers also will be  closed.

The following activities in schools and on school grounds are cancelled:

  • Extracurricular activities.
  • Interscholastic contests.
  • Team practices.
  • Field trips.
  • Middle school after-school programs.
  • Professional learning and training courses.
  • All adult and community education classes.
  • Recreation programs and community use by outside groups not affiliated with FCPS.

For more information from FCPS, go to

Video: Summer Heat Safety Tips to Keep Kids Safe in Cars

Posted at 1 p.m.

Leaving a child or pet in an unattended vehicle is preventable. Unfortunately though, it does happen. The Kids and Cars organization reports that since 1998, an average of 38 children die every year from vehicular heat stroke.

In the video below, Lucy Caldwell of our Police Department offers some tips parents and caregivers can use to ensure that our most precious cargo — our children — are never left unattended in a vehicle again.


Related Articles

Audio: Police Offer Tips to Keep Children and Pets Safe

Posted at 3:55 p.m.

We’re focusing this week on safety for children and pets in the summer heat — specifically on ensuring that they aren’t left unattended in vehicles.

Today, Andy Wehrlen of our Police Department offers guidance on what residents can do. He notes that we’re all busy, but with a little thought and pre-planning, our most precious cargo — our children — will be safe.


Wehrlen adds, “As you’d never leave your children alone in a vehicle, never leave pets in a parked car.”


Take a few minutes today and take these action steps. Commit to “look before you lock” the doors and make sure no child or pet is left unattended in a vehicle.

Earlier articles:

Heat and Unattended Kids in Cars Do NOT Go Together


Leaving children and pets unattended in cars is often emphasized during hot weather, although it’s something we need to think about daily.

With temperatures in the 90s this week — and rising the rest of the summer — we’re going to focus this week on this important topic. Today, we start with some quick tips and a checklist to remind us to look before you lock your car.

The Kids and Cars organization reports that since 1998, an average of 38 children die every year from vehicular heat stroke — that’s one every 9 days. And it doesn’t just happen elsewhere. Just this past weekend a local 8-month-old baby was left in a car and died.

How Does this Happen?

There are several factors that contribute to children being inadvertently forgotten by care givers. Paramount is the fact that our brains are not keeping up with the demands of our busy lives. The most common factors include a change in one’s normal routine, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue, distractions and hormone changes. When these factors combine, the ability for the brain to multi‐task is diminished.

As parents know, life with newborns and small children is full of stress, sleep deprivation and distractions. And young children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their car seats; becoming quiet, unobtrusive little passengers. And sadly, for babies with rear‐facing seats, the seat looks the same from the front seat – whether occupied or not.

Never Leave Your Children Alone in a Vehicle – Not Even for a Minute!

  • Some people may think it’s OK to leave children in cars to run an errand, so they crack the window open. Some people may literally forget about a quiet, sleeping child in the back of their car as happens dozens of times a year across the country. Regardless, know the dangers. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Put something you’ll need like your cellphone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. Kids and Cars calls this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
  • Use drive‐thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) instead of “running in for just a minute.”
  • And if you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved and call 9-1-1 immediately. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible.

Kids and Cars Safety Checklist - don't leave children or pets unattended in vehicles!

For additional information about ways to keep children safe in and around vehicles, visit


Statewide Moment of Silence to Mark One Week Since Connecticut School Shooting

Governor Bob McDonnell today issued a call for Virginians to join in a moment of silence tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 21, to commemorate the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting exactly one week after the shootings occurred.

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy has issued a proclamation declaring tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 21, as a Day of Mourning in Connecticut and called upon all residents of that state to observe a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. Malloy has also asked Connecticut places of worship and government buildings, which have the ability, to ring bells 26 times during that moment of silence.

McDonnell also has issued a day of mourning proclamation for Dec. 21.

School Preparedness: Fairfax Prepares Day 4

Posted 10:14 a.m.

The number 4Yesterday, we suggested a way to prepare infants and young children for disasters. Today, let’s talk about the next level of our youth as it is the first day of classes for Fairfax County Public Schools and many private schools are underway, too.

Student stepping off a school busIf you have a student in the county school system, then each school has its own set of emergency plans. If there’s an incident, some schools may choose different response methods such as shelter in place or evacuation. It all depends on the situation. Parents are strongly encouraged to be familiar and comply with emergency response plans for schools. General emergency messages and early and late school openings and closings can be found on the school system public web home page and on cable Channel 21 and emergency messages are sent by e-mail to subscribers of FCPS Keep In Touch

Exclamation point iconTHE ASK: Within one week, review the FCPS emergency preparedness webpage and related resources so you’re familiar with emergency response plans; contact your principal for further details. If you have children at a private school, become familiar with the same type of information presented on the FCPS webpage link above.

TELL US you’ve done this:

  • Post a quick reply in this blog’s comments section below such as “I’ve done this.”
  • Use the Twitter hashtag #fairfaxprepares and tweet your accomplishment. Include photos if you’d like.
  • Like our special Facebook page for this campaign to leave comments and share tips with your friends.
  • Email us at that you accomplished an ask.



  • Click the links below to email, share on social media or print a hard copy. Thanks!

30 Ways in 30 Days logo

Infant and Young Children: Fairfax Prepares Day 3

Posted 10:40 a.m.

The number 3In 2011, more than 75,000 infants and young children called Fairfax County home. Our littlest residents have unique needs that must be prepared for at all times.

Parents should stock up on essential supplies. Try not to run low on medications or diapers as stores may not be open depending on the incident.

young childIf you’re not a parent of a young one, you may be called upon to care for young children for extended periods of time if a parent can’t get home due to an incident (think of the January 2011 snowstorm when people were stuck on the roads for hours). Make sure you have some supplies on hand, too, if you’re part of someone’s family emergency plan.

Exclamation point iconTHE ASK: By Friday, review your infant and young children supplies that are essential to you as a parent or someone who may be taking care of a young child. At the minimum, ensure you have enough over the counter medicines on hand such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

TELL US you’ve done this:

  • Post a quick reply in this blog’s comments section below such as “I’ve done this.”
  • Use the Twitter hashtag #fairfaxprepares and tweet your accomplishment. Include photos if you’d like.
  • Like our special Facebook page for this campaign to leave comments and share tips with your friends.
  • Email us at that you accomplished an ask.



  • Click the links below to email, share on social media or print a hard copy. Thanks!

30 Ways in 30 Days logo


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