Drivers travelling with children are being urged to always check their back seat before locking their vehicles and walking away to help prevent child heatstroke fatalities.

To coincide with National Heatstroke Prevention Day held in May the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a new campaign to prevent hot car deaths.

Stop. Look. Lock., aims to educate parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and to always check a locked car before leaving.

According to the NHTSA, vehicles can heat up very quickly, with temperatures rising 20 degrees in as little as ten minutes, creating a deadly situation for a child locked inside.

Twenty-nine children died from vehicular heatstroke in 2023.

“The inside of a vehicle is never a safe place for a child to play or be left alone, because hot cars can be deadly for children in a matter of minutes,” said Sophie Shulman, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator.

“No one wants to think they could forget their child, but the facts show it can happen to anyone. Our Stop. Look. Lock. campaign educates and empowers parents and caregivers to make simple changes to prevent unimaginable tragedies.”

The NHTSA has issued the following facts and advice to help keep children safe:

  • By locking your car when it’s not in use, you can prevent children from gaining access to the vehicle and minimize the risk of them getting trapped.
  • Even if you don’t have a child of your own, a child in the neighborhood could get into an unlocked vehicle, with tragic consequences.
  • Never leave a child alone in a car, even if you think you’ll only be gone for a minute.
  • Rolling down a window does little to keep a vehicle cool.
  • Heatstroke can happen even on a relatively cool, 60-degree day.
  • Keep an item in the back – like a teddy bear. Put the bear up front with you when your child is in their car seat to serve as a reminder. Or, put your bag or phone in the back with the child.