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In July, the vehicle safety organization launched an innovative pilot program with hospitals nationwide to protect young children from suffering heat stroke and even death in locked cars. As part of the “Look Before You Lock” program, will distribute safety cards in hospitals to warn new parents about the risks of leaving children in vehicles unattended and help prevent these types of tragic accidents from occurring. The cards will be included in information packets that are given to parents when leaving the hospital.

The safety initiative responds to the fact that new parents often suffer from exhaustion, experience hormone changes, and see major changes to their normal routines. The combination of these factors makes multi-tasking even more difficult and means that memory lapses can occur when they are least expected. Even the best parents and caregivers can overlook a sleeping baby in a car. This accidental slip-up can have tragic consequences: so far this year, 22 children have died inside of hot vehicles. Over the last decade, over 500 children have died as a result of vehicular heat stroke and research shows that in over 50% of these cases, the person responsible for the child’s death unknowingly left them in the vehicle.

The safety campaign “Look Before You Lock” is aimed at preventing these unnecessary deaths, primarily by helping parents and caregivers to understand the risks and to adopt behaviors to minimize them. The safety cards being distributed in hospitals offer the following simple reminders:

Back seat: put something in the back seat of your vehicle that requires you to open the back door every time you park—cell phone, handbag, etc.

Every child: Every child should be correctly restrained in the back seat.

Stuffed animal: Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. Place it in the front seat next to you as a reminder of when your baby is in the back seat.

Ask your babysitter: Request your child care provider to call you if your child hasn’t arrived on time.

Focus on driving: Avoid cell phone calls and texting while driving.

Every time you park: Make it a routine to open the back door of your car every time you park to check that no one has been left behind.

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