NHTSA’s “Look Before You Lock” Campaign

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently issued a press release about a nationwide public service campaign aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of leaving children unattended in hot vehicles. This is an especially important topic for parents and caregivers in California. According to data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences, in 2013, at least 44 children lost their lives after being left in unattended vehicles across the U.S. Additionally, an unknown number of other children were moderate to severely injured due to being left in hot cars. The NHTSA wants parents and caregivers to know that it doesn’t really take that much to lose a child to heatstroke.

Children are Vulnerable to Heatstroke

Even when temperatures outside are in the low 80s and windows are rolled down two inches, it can take as little as 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach deadly temperatures. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body, and when a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, they die. Children under the age of four and infants are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures. Even just a few minutes in the car could end in tragedy.

NHTSA’s Tips for Parents and Caregivers

• Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
• Always make it a habit to look in the vehicle before locking it.
• Check the front and back seats.
• Ask childcare providers to call if your child doesn’t show up when he or she is expected.
• Keep a large teddy bear in the car seat when it’s empty. Move the teddy bear to the front seat with the child is in the car seat to serve as a visual reminder.
• Teach children that vehicles are not playing areas.
• Store keys out of reach of children.

Avoid a Tragic Heatstroke

Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside! When the temperatures are in the 60’s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees. Cracking windows just doesn’t help, so don’t leave children in the car for any reason. Avoid a tragic heatstroke, even if your quick errand will just take “a minute.” Finally, community members are urged to call 911 immediately if they see a child alone in a hot vehicle. Children in distress need to be removed from hot cars as quickly as possible and cooled down.

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