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'Look Before You Lock' aims to save kids' lives

3:27 PM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Tragedy strikes again in Florida as a six-month old girl dies after being left inside a hot car in Miami-Dade County this week.

The baby is the 29th child nationwide to die in a hot car this year. Three of the deaths happened in Florida.

The temperature inside a vehicle can quickly soar to 200 degrees and create a deadly threat to children. Their bodies are much more vulnerable to high temperatures.

In the case of the girl who died this week, police said her father was out of his normal routine and forgot she was in the back seat.

The Florida Department of Children and Families wants to help parents develop habits that remind them to look in the back seat before locking up.

The department is conducting a campaign called "Look Before You Lock" because every one of these deaths is preventable.

"Maybe putting something around your keychain, putting something on the door, putting something on the outside of the door to look back there. This isn't a frequent problem. Obviously, every parent cares about their child and every parent wants to avoid having this happen. But when people get busy it's good to ingrain these habits to make sure it doesn't happen."

Nationwide, more than 600 children have died in hot cars over the past 20 years, according to the group Kids and Cars.

The group says one of the main problems is that our brains are not keeping up with the demands of our busy lives. When you add stress, lack of sleep and distractions to the situation, anyone can make this dangerous mistake.

KidsAndCars.org offers these suggestions:

• Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.

• Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.

• Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. We call this the "Look Before You Lock" campaign.

• Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it's not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front, you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.

• Make arrangements with your child's day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.

• Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.

• Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.

• Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.

• When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.

• If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

• Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.

• Use drive-thru services when available. (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.)

• Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.

First Coast News

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