'Look Before You Lock': Advocates Work to Prevent Hot Car Deaths

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    Child advocates are driving home an important safety message about leaving kids in hot cars - look before you lock. (Published Thursday, July 24, 2014)

    Child advocates are driving home an important safety message about leaving kids in hot cars - look before you lock.

    A string of hot car deaths have been reported this summer. Earlier this month, a 15-month-old Connecticut boy died after his father forgot to drop him off at daycare and instead drove to his workplace.

    Six American children died under similar circumstances in June. The case receiving the most national attention is the death of Cooper Harris, whose father is charged with intentionally leaving the  22-month-old alone in the back of the family SUV. Cooper's father, Justin Ross Harris, claims he was unaware his son was in the back seat when he drove to work.

    So far in 2014, 15 children have died from heat stroke after being left in hot cars, according to KidsAndCars, a national nonprofit that works to prevent harm to children in and around vehicles. By their count, 44 children died of vehicular heat stroke last year, up from 33 in 2012.

    It takes only 10 minutes for a car's interior to reach 90 degrees on an 80-degree day -- even with the windows rolled down two inches. After 30 minutes, the interior temperate will reach 114. And after an hour, a car's inside will top 123 degrees, says SaferCar.gov.

    A child dies when their internal temperature reaches 107 degrees.

    But any parent can forget their child in a vehicle, especially if they're exhausted, distracted or out of their usual routine, say SaferCar.gov and KidsandCars.org.

    Here are some tips to keep your children safe:

    • Leave anything you normally need (such as your purse, wallet or cell phone) in the back seat.

    • Keep a large item such as a stuffed toy in your child's seat when he or she isn't there. Keep the item in the front seat when your child is in the back.

    • Check your back seats every time you leave the car.

    • Arrange to have your child's daycare, babysitter or school call you if your child doesn't arrive.

    • If you're dropping off your child but your partner normally does it, have him or her call you to make sure the dropoff went according to plan.

    • Teach your children never to enter or play in a parked vehicle.

    • Heatstroke can occur in weather as low as 57 degrees, and children's body temperatures rise faster than adults'. Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even for a minute.