Close to 40 children in the U.S. die every year from heatstroke after being left in a hot car, and this year Meridian and Boise Police are asking you to help them share the message to “Look Before You Lock.” This is the third year of the “Look Before You Lock” campaign and once again Treasure Valley agencies and businesses are teaming up remind everyone that it’s dangerous to leave kids, pets and vulnerable loved ones inside cars.
In Idaho, seven children since 1998 have died from heatstroke after being left in a car, and many of those were on days you would not consider to be “hot.” The inside of a car heats up fast even with the windows cracked. When it’s 75 outside, it can reach up to 94 degrees inside a car within ten short minutes, and 109 degrees in 30 minutes.
“Heatstroke happens when the child’s body is unable to cool itself quickly enough and neurologic symptoms begin,” explained St. Luke’s Children’s Medical Director and Emergency Physician Dr. Kenny Bramwell. “A child’s body heats up three-to-five times faster than an adult. If the temperature elevation continues unabated, major organs begin to shut down and permanent brain or neurological injury can happen. When those excessive body temperatures are prolonged, the child can die. Sadly, it doesn’t take long for children to get that hot.”
In most cases when an individual or pet is left in a hot car, it’s an accident. Of the related child deaths in the U.S., more than half of the children were simply forgotten by a caregiver, and more than a quarter happened when the child somehow got access to the car on their own. Since 1998, 883 children in the U.S. have died this way, according to data collected by San Jose State University. Twenty-four died last year.
As part of the “Look Before You Lock” campaign, some local businesses in Ada and Canyon County will display posters on their front doors and St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital is handing out window clings to new parents. This year we also have a special social media filter that we are asking you to share to remind friends and family to “Look Before You Lock.”
“If we all remember to share this reminder on hot days, who knows the lives we will save,” said Ed Fritz with the Boise Police Crime Prevention unit. “In addition to the signs around town, we are asking you to participate virtually and take a picture of yourself, your car seat or your pet and share it using our look before you lock filter on social media.”
Last summer Boise Police had to break a car window to save an infant accidently locked in a hot car. Sadly, the Idaho Humane Society also had to investigate the death of dog left in hot car and they respond to nearly 250 calls of pets locked in hot cars last summer.
How you can help!
Upload our social media filter and use it on Instagram or Facebook to remind your friends and family to Look Before You Lock. Available on Boise Police Instagram and Facebook
Download a flyer to hang in the front door of your business
Come to the Meridian or Boise Police Department and pick up a Look Before You Lock window cling to put in your car.
Other tips for protecting your family
Never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down.
Check to make sure all children leave the car when you reach your destination.
Don’t overlook sleeping infants.
Teach children not to play in or around cars.
Keep car keys out of reach and sight.
Always lock car doors and trunks, especially when parked in the driveway or near the home.
Keep rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from getting into the trunk from inside the car.
Be wary of child-resistant locks. Teach older children how to disable the driver’s door locks if they unintentionally become entrapped in a motor vehicle.
Contact your automobile dealership about getting your vehicle retrofitted with a trunk release mechanism.