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The NHTSA Urges Parents to "Look Before You Lock"

The NHTSA Urges Parents to "Look Before You Lock"

By Jeff Youngs, June 06, 2012
Heatstroke is the top non-crash, vehicle-related cause of death among children under the age of 14, and with record-breaking heat arriving early in 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mounted a national campaign urging parents and child care workers to think: "Where's baby? Look before you lock." The goal is to reduce, or even eliminate, the number of heatstroke (hyperthermia) deaths in pre-teen children.

In 2011, one of the hottest years on record, 33 children perished due to heatstroke after being left in a hot vehicle, representing a significant drop from 49 deaths in 2010. However, the NHTSA reminds parents and caregivers that even if a child survives heatstroke, they can suffer permanent brain injury, blindness, loss of hearing, or other problems.

"Everything we know about this terrible danger to children indicates heatstroke in hot cars can happen to any caregiver from any walk of life--and the majority of these cases are accidental tragedies that can strike even the most loving and conscientious parents," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

To do what it can to ensure that families avoid heatstroke, the NHTSA "Where's baby? Look before you lock" campaign recommends the following:

  • Never leave a child in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are open and the engine is running with the air conditioning on
  • Always check the front seat, back seat, and cargo area before locking your vehicle and walking away
  • Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area
  • Keep your vehicle locked, and the keys stored out of reach
  • Ask child caregivers to call you immediately if your child does not arrive for care as expected

If you discover that a child has been left inside a vehicle unattended, the NHTSA recommends that you call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. If the child is in visible distress due to the heat inside the vehicle, the child needs to be removed as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.

"This campaign is a call to action for parents and families, but also for everyone in every community that cares about the safety of children," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "It is our hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache."

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