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Heatstroke Prevention Day has simple, lifesaving message

Heatstroke Prevention Day has simple, lifesaving message

Where's baby? Always look before you lock

Today, as part of National Heatstroke Prevention Day, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Safe Kids, and safety advocates across the country are taking a new approach to raise awareness about the dangers of children in hot cars. During a day-long social media conversation, we're posting child heatstroke prevention messages, statistics, and tips on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. We'll be posting every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. using the hash tag #heatstroke, and we urge you to help spread the word by doing the same.

Already in 2013, at least 24 children have died from heatstroke from being left in a car. An unknown number of children are also injured each year by heatstroke, suffering permanent brain damage, blindness, hearing loss, and other life-changing injuries. With August and September ahead--heatstroke can occur even when the outside temperature is in the 50s--I'm deeply concerned that we will lose more children to a cause that is 100 percent preventable.

Graphic saying "Look before you lock"

That's where you come in.

Often heatstroke deaths and injuries occur after a child gets into an unlocked vehicle to play without a parent’s knowledge. Other incidents can occur when parents or caregivers who are not used to transporting a child as part of their daily routine inadvertently forget a sleeping infant or quiet child in the back of their vehicle.

If we can increase awareness of the dangers of heatstroke and spread easy-to-follow prevention tips, we can reduce the number of these incidents and their tragic consequences. So, please, follow the tips below and share them with friends and family. Give @NHTSAgov and @SafeKidsUSA a retweet. Share today's Facebook posts.

You might be saving a young child's life.

Graphic indicating that children's body temperatures rise 5 times faster than adults'

  • Photo of baby in car seat saying Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minuteNever leave infants or young children unattended in a vehicle, even if you leave the windows partly open or the air conditioning on.
  • Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle.
  • If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and it’s normally your spouse, partner, or caregiver who drops them off, have them call you to make sure the drop off went according to plan.
  • Set a reminder on your cell phone or calendar to alert you to be sure you dropped your child off at day care. You can also download the Baby Reminder App for iPhones.
  • Have a plan with your childcare provider so they will call you if your child does not show up for childcare by a certain time.
  • Never let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area.
  • Always lock your vehicle doors and trunk and keep the keys out of a child’s reach. If a child is missing, quickly check all vehicles, including the trunk.
  • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly (not an ice bath but by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose).

Please, remember: kids in hot cars are a deadly combination. Don’t take the chance.

David Strickland is Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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