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Summer vehicle safety: Look Before You Lock

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With the temperature forecast to reach past 100 as early as tomorrow, Texans know that our cars get hot. Tragedies occur when infants or small children are left in hot cars, leading to an average of 38 preventable deaths every year in the US. Daycare providers who transport children must complete Transportation Safety Training, also called Search Our Seats, but parents and family members of young children should also be vigilant.

Children are very curious about what adults do. You may have even seen a small child trying to put on lipstick or wear a tie. Small children do not understand the danger of a hot car and will often play in an unlocked car and can easily lock themselves inside. Keeping cars locked and keys out of reach can prevent such accidents.

It's always important to do a quick head count when entering and exiting a vehicle. This prevents leaving someone behind. Visually checking every seat can ensure that sleeping children are not forgotten in the car. While using a sunshade on the front and back windshield can help reduce the temperature inside the car to help keep seatbelts from burning the skin, they do not lower temperature enough to leave children in the car.

The Administration for Children and Families, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Safe Kids USA have a safety campaign called Where's Baby? Look Before You Lock, to inform parents and caregivers of the dangers of hot cars and to provide easy tips to prevent tragedy. Using the quick checklist can help families stay safe. Parents whose children attend daycare can ask if all van and bus drivers have taken the required safety training and if they conduct headcounts and call roll. Parents can also ask to see training certificates if there is doubt. Simply remembering to look before you lock could save a life.

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