Warmer weather equals parked cars that can heat up like ovens very quickly, creating a dangerous situation for children and pets that may be left behind. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a nationwide radio and Internet campaign to encourage drivers to think "Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock."
While the average number of child deaths associated with heatstroke annually since 1998 is 38, last year at least 44 children in the U.S. died after being left unattended in cars, according to the San Francisco State University Geosciences Department.
NHTSA said that heatstroke can occur quickly. When outside temperatures are in the low 80s, a car's interior can heat up to dangerous temperatures in 10 minutes, even with a window rolled down two inches. The agency noted that children's bodies overheat more easily than adults, and that babies and young children under age four are at the greatest risk.
Heatstroke often occurs when a child gets into a car to play without an adult's knowledge or when the driver who is not used to transporting a child as part of a regular routine accidentally leaves a sleeping child in the car. The "Where's Baby? Look Before You Lock" campaign provides tips to reduce the risks, such as teaching children that the car is not a safe place to play, keeping keys out of reach, making a habit of looking in the front and back seats of the car before locking it and creating reminders when a child is in the car so they are not left accidentally.
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Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.