Washington, D.C. – Summer heat can be especially dangerous for children left in cars, a reminder from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Hyperthermia (heat stroke) is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of 14.

NHTSA said that at least 27 documented deaths per year are due to children overheating in cars.

The agency recommends the following tips:

– Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, and do not let children play in unattended vehicles.

– Never leave infants or children in parked vehicles, even if the windows are partially open, or if the engine is running with the air conditioning on.

– Make a habit of looking into the vehicle, both front and back, before locking the doors and walking away.

– If someone takes the child to day care who normally does not, have the person call you and make sure everything went according to plan. Ask your childcare provider to call you if the child does not show up for childcare.

– Remind yourself that the child is in the back seat, such as by writing a note and putting it where you will see it when you leave the vehicle; put your purse, briefcase or other item you need in the back seat so that you will have to check there; or keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy, and put the toy where you will see it when leaving the vehicle when the child is in the car seat.

– Always lock the vehicle doors and trunk, and keep the keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.

– If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If you see warning signs such as red, hot, or moist or dry skin, no sweating, a rapid or weak pulse, nausea or acting strangely, cool the child rapidly and call 911.

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