Although National Heatstroke Prevention Day may have passed (July 31), the danger of heatstroke is still present – especially for young children who are left unattended in cars. In the first six months of 2017, 26 children nationwide died of heatstroke after being left in a car – making heat the leading cause of non-crash related vehicle fatalities for kids 14 and younger in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Safe Kids Worldwide is reminding parents that temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes, which is why it’s vitally important to never leave a child alone in a parked car. Parents should take care to keep the keys out of a child’s reach and look in both the front and back of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away.  

The agency’s public education campaign “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” offers the following safety tips.

For Parents and Caregivers:  Remind yourself that the child is in the car.

  • Place a briefcase, purse, or cell phone next to the child’s car seat so that you’ll always check the back seat before leaving the car.
  • Call your spouse or another caregiver to confirm you’ve dropped your child off.
  • Have your daycare provider call you if your child doesn’t arrive.
  • Write a note and place it on the dashboard of your car, or set a reminder on your cell phone or calendar.

For Bystanders: Actions to take if you see a child alone in a vehicle:

  • Always make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
  • If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.
  • If the child is not responsive and appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window.

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