Look Before You Lock!

Posted by Marianne Frederick

In April 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a program called, “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” Knowing exactly where your young children are is always important, but now that the warmest season of the year is soon to be in full swing, it becomes even more important to check to make sure your child is not in the backseat as you are locking your car.

This public service campaign by the NHTSA aims to reduce the number of young children’s deaths from heatstroke and hyperthermia after having been left in vehicles which can become overheated quickly. During 2011, there were 33 deaths of young children in the U.S. from this type of hyperthermia, in 2010 there were 49–the majority of those deaths were of children under the age of 6 who had been left in vehicles whose interiors became overheated. All of the deaths were preventable. According to the NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash fatalities for children under the age of 14. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted, “It is [our] hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache.”

As part of the campaign, the NHTSA is releasing both radio and online advertisements focused on the theme “Where’s baby? Look before you lock.” In addition, the NHTSA is making a tool kit available at http://www.safercar.gov/parents/heat-involved.htm for parents and organizations to use in local campaigns on the issue. It’s important for parents and caregivers to remember that children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult. Heatstroke in kids left in cars can occur even when temperatures outside the vehicle are as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Cars heat up quickly!

The NHTSA recommends the following tips to help parents and caregivers prevent accidental heatstroke in very young children:

  • Never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle–even if the windows are partially open and/or the air conditioner is running;
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle front and back before walking away from the vehicle;
  • Request the child care provider call you as soon as they are aware if the child does not show up for scheduled daycare, nursery school or school as expected;
  • If you do not take your child to daycare and someone else does, have that person call you to confirm your baby arrived safely;
  • Place reminders to yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as a child’s backpack or lunch or stuffed toy–place the item in the front passenger seat so you are forced see it before exiting the car;
  • Never allow your car to be a play area for any young child in your care; and
  • Store your car keys up and out of a child’s reach!

Especially this summer, please remember to “Look Before You Lock!” and help keep kids safe!

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