From firefighters, an ‘inside look’ at staying safe this summer

Editor’s note: Battalion Chief Dan Couch, the Chandler Fire Department’s public information officer, says with temperatures at the 100-plus mark has come in an increase in the number of cases involving kids left in cars and hikers lost and dehydrated. He offers this “inside look” at the fire service’s procedures for dealing with such cases.

By Dan Crouch

Kids left in cars

On motor vehicle crashes, especially where multiple vehicles or persons are involved, we always let the scene commander know we have an "all-clear" on all vehicles. This means we looked under, around and behind all the seats, especially in SUVs, to make sure we accounted for all persons in the vehicles and we didn't have a small child under a van seat or behind in the cargo area.

Moms and dads should get in the habit of doing a walk around of the vehicle before they go inside.

Check for a lot of things: melting crayons on the rear deck, forgotten bottles of milk on the floor board (that's one smell you never forget), pets, videotapes, DVDs, ice cream that didn't get taken in the house and, most importantly: the baby.

This will also provide a lot of other information--No scratches when I went in, all tires properly inflated, door locks all down, license number of the wreck beside you--what's that green fluid under the front of my car?


In the fire service, we practice preemptive hydration. As soon as we arrive for our shift, and sometimes the night before, we start drinking large amounts of water (or sports drinks; no soda).

During a working incident, it is not unusual for a firefighter to experience five pounds in just water loss.

If possible, we try to get down at least 64 ounces of hydration in the morning; most will get a gallon on board before the afternoon. 

The public should do the same. Have adequate water with you if you are hiking, working or recreating.

If you are going to be out all day with the kids, do the same...hydrate at home and then have adequate water with you while doing errands. A cooler with bottles of water in ice is fairly inexpensive.

Avoid sodas and sugared prepared drinks (especially when a 64-ounce Coke is only 99 cents at 7/11, water is 1.49 for a 12-ounce bottle). 

Flavored water is nice for those of us who just don't enjoy drinking water and, if nothing else, the sports drinks will work, but usually have sugar, artificial flavors and salt in them.

I'm not the expert here. If you’re interested in knowing more, good sources might be an exercise physiologist, nutritionist or a member of the medical profession.