Secretaries Burwell and Foxx co-sign Look Before You Lock Letter
Every summer we hear about the tragic deaths of and serious injuries to children who suffer heatstroke after being left unattended in vehicles. Since 1998, there have been at least 606 deaths in America because an adult forgot about a young child in a vehicle—with 44 lives lost in 2013 alone.
The good news is these tragedies are 100 percent preventable, and your program can help. While parents and family caregivers will always be the first line of defense in preventing child heatstroke in hot cars, everyone in our communities has a role to play. That’s why the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stepped up efforts to raise public awareness on this issue.
NHTSA and other safety advocates and academic institutions have recognized the safety threat heatstroke poses for children left in hot cars. Efforts to raise public awareness on the issue this year produced new campaign materials for “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” Safety tips for families and other caregivers, media outreach materials, posters, and other campaign materials are available on the Parents Central website.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is helping this campaign reach another critical audience: early care and education providers like you. We hope you will support the “Look Before You Lock” campaign in the following ways.
First, as you know, you should always follow local, State, and Federal transportation safety regulations to ensure no child is ever left alone in a vehicle. The Federal Head Start transportation safety regulations can be found at Head Start Transportation. Many of you transport children in vans and buses. It is critical that you follow safety protocols, including making sure that the driver checks every seat—every time—to ensure that all the children are out of the vehicle before parking and locking up.
Second, we encourage you to use and share the attached tip sheet. A hot car can be deadly! These tips can help save lives.
Third, we urge you to use the voluntary pledge with each family you serve. The pledge asks both caregivers and parents to immediately inform each other if a child does not arrive at home or at an early care and education center as expected at the regularly scheduled hour. This simple step of ensuring that adults are notified when a child is not where he or she is expected to be can be all that it takes for a child to be found in a locked car in time to prevent a tragedy.
Finally, we hope you will take advantage of the “Look Before You Lock” campaign materials and share them with your staff, families, and local communities.
Ultimately, everyone can help keep our children safe from the dangers of heatstroke, including program directors, teachers, staff, drivers, and parents. Please join us in spreading the word about child heatstroke in hot cars and remind everyone in your community to “Look Before You Lock!”
Thank you for your continued support.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Transportation