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NHTSA Reminds Parents to “Look Before You Lock”

National Heatstroke Prevention Day is Sunday, May 1

| Washington, DC

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging all parents and caregivers to make sure they remember “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” when driving with young passengers. Sunday, May 1, is National Heatstroke Prevention Day, an opportunity to remind everyone of the dangers that hot vehicles pose to children.

One of the biggest risk factors for heatstroke deaths is a change in routine. As parents and caregivers continue to shift their schedules due to changes in the pandemic, the risk of someone forgetting and leaving their child in the back seat increases. 

“An average of 38 children die from heatstroke in hot vehicles each year. Many deaths happen because the morning routine is different – for example, a caregiver taking a child to daycare who typically doesn’t do the drop off,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator. “We are asking all caregivers to look before they lock because changes in daily routines can lead to tragedy in just minutes.”

For heatstroke soundbites from Dr. Cliff and B-roll illustrating the interior temperature of a parked vehicle, please click here.

NHTSA’s “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” is a $3 million campaign to remind drivers to never leave children unattended in cars and to lock their cars when unoccupied to prevent children from entering unlocked vehicles. 

Heatstroke in children can happen quickly, as their bodies are smaller, heat up faster, and are therefore more prone to the effects of extreme temperatures. Heatstroke fatalities can happen in vehicles parked in shaded areas and in temperatures as low as 57 degrees, even with the windows cracked.

NHTSA reminds the public that everyone can do their part to keep children safe: 

  • Lock your car when you aren’t using it. 
    • Even if you don’t have a child of your own, a boy or girl in your neighborhood could get into your unlocked vehicle, with tragic consequences.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even if you think you’ll only be gone for a minute.
    • Rolling down a window does little to keep a vehicle cool.
    • Heatstroke can happen even on a relatively cool day.
    • A vehicle can reach a dangerous temperature in as little as 10 minutes. 
  • When you’re driving with your child, remember to always Look Before You Lock to make sure your child has been dropped off at daycare or with a caregiver, not left behind in the car seat.
    • Keep an item in the back – like a teddy bear. Put the bear up front with you when your child is in their car seat to serve as a reminder.
    • Or, put your purse or phone in the back with the child.
    • Some new vehicles even come with backseat reminder technology. 
  • And if you see a child in distress in a vehicle – ACT. Call 911 immediately and get help.

These deaths are heartbreaking, but they are also preventable. With your help, we can save lives. Before leaving your car, always think: "Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock."

For more information, please visit NHTSA's heatstroke page.

NHTSA 202-366-9550