With the Memorial Day weekend now in our rear-view mirrors, temperatures are heating up across the nation. And that means the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is once again reminding Americans to prevent child deaths and injuries from heatstroke in vehicles.
Just as they did last summer, NHTSA, Safe Kids Worldwide, and other partners will be working together this summer to raise awareness of the deadly threat that heatstroke poses to young children in hot cars.
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicular deaths for young children. It is especially dangerous because vehicles heat up quickly. Even with a window rolled down two inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s, the temperature inside the vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
In the United States, from 2003 to 2012, 384 children died due to heatstroke in cars, according to researchers at San Francisco State University. We are already saddened by the heatstroke deaths of four children in 2013.At last week's safety campaign launch, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, "The safety of children is a special area of concern for NHTSA and DOT. We got involved in this very tragic issue a few years ago and --with our partners-- we have worked hard to spread the message that this is a problem that can be solved."
The solution? Look before you lock. Every time you leave the car.
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle — even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away;
- Ask your childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected;
- Do things that serve as a reminder that a child is in the vehicle-- place your purse or briefcase in the back seat, write a note to yourself, or position a stuffed animal in the driver's view; and,
- Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child's reach.
In addition, NHTSA and Safe Kids urge community members who see a child alone in a hot vehicle to immediately call 911 or the local emergency number. A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.
We hope everyone who cares about the safety of our children – parents, grandparents, caregivers and others – will follow these simple, and important, safeguards that can save lives and avoid unnecessary heartache.
Let's make this a safer summer. Just think, "Where's Baby? Look Before You Lock," every time you get out of the car.