Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock. Heatstroke Kills.

Heatstroke He's a Killer Poster NHTSA where's baby look before you lockWith summer heat pounding down on cities and towns across America, NHTSA is again urging everyone to remember that heatstroke can be deadly to kids left in a hot car. These tragedies can be prevented, and we can all do more to protect kids.


Heatstroke is the leading cause of death involving children 14 years and younger in motor vehicle incidents other than crashes. They represent 61 percent of all non-crash deaths in this age group. San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences estimates that in 2014 there were at least 30 heatstroke deaths. There have already been 12 deaths in 2016.


Heatstroke kills. But it is 100 percent preventable. So NHTSA is reminding everyone to protect children with this simple message: “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” We’ll be highlighting heatstroke dangers on Twitter during National Heatstroke Prevention Day on Friday, July 31. All day, you can follow our tweetup @NHTSAgov using #checkforbaby and #heatstrokekills.


Heatstroke poses a specific danger to children because a child’s body overheats easily—three to five times faster than an adult’s. On an 80-degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes. But children are at risk even when it’s not hot outside; heatstroke can happen inside a vehicle when temperatures outside are as low as 57 degrees. That’s why it’s never okay to leave a child unattended in a vehicle.


It’s a common misperception that heatstroke deaths occur when a parent intentionally leaves a child behind in the car. Most often children killed by heatstroke are mistakenly left behind or get into a vehicle when a parent isn’t around. This is the case in 82 percent of all heatstroke deaths from 1998 to 2014.


Do not make the mistake of thinking it cannot happen to you and your child. Too many heatstroke stories come from caring and attentive parents who, in a moment when overtired and overwhelmed, forgot that their child was in the backseat. They were on an errand that was outside their normal routine or when they wouldn’t normally have their child in the car. It can happen to anyone, which is why we all need to be on guard against this threat to kids.


Download NHTSA’s flyer to share with friends or post on social media.


Toddler in car seat being buckled in by mom baby carseat safety


Remember: “Where’s baby? Look before you lock.” Follow these tips to prevent heatstroke:

  • Never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partly open, or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
  • Don’t let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
  • Take steps to remember not to leave a child in a vehicle:
    • Write yourself a note and place it where you’ll see it when you leave the vehicle.
    • Place your purse, briefcase, or something else you’re sure to need in the back seat so you’ll be sure to see a child left in the vehicle.
    • Keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. Once the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she leaves the vehicle.
  • Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
  • Ask your childcare center to call you if your child doesn’t arrive on time for childcare.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly (not in an ice bath but by spraying them with cool water).


Please share this information with friends and followers wherever you can and help us prevent these terrible heatstroke tragedies. With one tweet or post (or print it out and pin it to a bulletin board if you’re old fashioned!) you can help save a child’s life.


Mark Rosekind, NHTSA Administrator


*As of June 15, 2016

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