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Aug 17, 2012 5:14 PM by NBC News

'Look Before You Lock' program aims to eliminate hot car deaths

(NBC NEWS) - Today, the Department of Transportation, along with the Department of Health and Human Services is sending an important message to parents: look before you lock, stressing that hot car deaths don't have to happen.

The "Look Before You Lock" campaign is a reminder to parents to be extra careful with your children during the hot months of summer. The record summer heat and a child left alone inside a hot car is a deadly combination.

"Since 1998, 532 children nationwide have lost their lives to vehicular heatstroke, most of those children were ages 3 or younger," said Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation, at a news conference today.

"Child heatstroke deaths are 100-percent preventable, never leave an infant or young child unattended in a vehicle even if the windows are partly open or the air conditioning is on and if you see a young child alone in a car, call the police immediately, parents and caregivers are the first line of defense for preventing child heatstroke fatalities but it's up to all of us to be vigilant," LaHood said. "We want everyone to think, ‘where's baby?', look before you lock, every time they get out of their cars."

"Parents need to get in the habit of looking in the backseat before they lock a car and bus drivers who transport children back and forth to pre-school and child care programs need to walk to the back and look at every seat to make sure there's no child sleeping or playing quietly still in the bus," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health & Human Services.

For more information on tips to keep your children safe during the summer heat, you can log onto:
www.safercar.gov/

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