As temperatures continue to rise, the Forsyth County Fire Department is urging caution to avoid heat-related illness, injury and death.
“Heat can be very dangerous, pushing the human body beyond its limits,” said Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers. “There are steps individuals can take to help reduce the risk of falling victim to heat-related dangers. These include staying indoors as much as possible and limiting exposure to the sun, and keeping outdoor activity to morning and evening hours only.”
The department’s warning comes two days after a 22-month-old boy died in Marietta after being left in a hot SUV. The boy’s father, Justin Ross Harris, 33, originally of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is facing charges of murder and cruelty to children. He was denied bond Thursday during an evening court hearing and will remain jailed until his next court appearance July 15.
Police said Harris told investigators he was supposed to drive his son to daycare, but drove straight to work and didn’t realize the boy was strapped into his car seat until the ride home Wednesday afternoon.
Temperatures in the metro Atlanta area that day reached the low 90s. Harris pulled his family’s SUV into a nearby shopping center and began trying to revive the child, police have said.
The Harris family’s landlord, Joe Saini, described Harris and his wife as “very, very nice” people who were in love with their baby, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“Everything was going right for this couple,” Saini said. “They wanted to buy a house so they could have some space for their child to run around the backyard.”
Investigators consulted with Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds before securing an arrest warrant for Harris. The investigation is “far, far from over,” Reynolds said Thursday. “I don’t know where this investigation will ultimately lead,” Reynolds told WSB Radio.
The murder charge doesn’t suggest that Harris intended to kill his son, but does indicate that child neglect factored into the boy’s death, Reynolds said.
Shivers said in addition to avoiding extended time in the sun, precautions also include drinking plenty of fluids, eating light and well-balanced regular meals low in salt, limiting alcohol consumption, wearing lightweight clothing, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and checking on friends, family members and neighbors who don’t have air conditioning in their homes.
For those who work outside or are planning a long day outside, Shivers said to use a buddy system and take frequent breaks.