Child safety
Published July 2015

Look Before You Lock

Keep your precious cargo in mind before you get out of the car

BYStaff
To most, leaving a child or grandchild in a car is something no parent, grandparent, or caregiver can fathom. But the tragic fact is that it does happen.

“It seems unimaginable to leave your child in your car, but more than half of reported incidents involve an adult who simply forgot,” says Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “With today’s distractions, it’s imperative parents and caregivers take extra steps to help prevent a tragic mistake from happening.”

Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states. Children and pets are particularly susceptible to heatstroke because their bodies can heat up five times faster than adults. Temperatures inside a car, even on a mild 72-degree sunny day, can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes.
 
To help build awareness of these dangers, AAA reveals some frightening facts about children in vehicles:
  • From 2009 to 2013, nearly 200 children died across the country as a result of heatstroke from being left in a vehicle, according to kidsandcars.org.
  • Arizona is fourth in the nation for these types of tragedies with 28 deaths between 1990 and 2010.
  • In 2013, between April and September, AAA Arizona received more than 800 priority lockout calls. In the majority of these calls, a child or pet was locked inside the vehicle.
In situations where a child is locked in a vehicle, AAA will dispatch assistance immediately, but also alert emergency authorities to respond. However, rather than calling the auto club, AAA urges motorists to call 911 if they see a child in a locked car.

As a safety advocate, AAA implores parents and caregivers to exercise extra caution when driving with children by following these tips:
  • Look before you lock. Always check the front and back seats of your vehicle before you get out and lock your vehicle. Also, consider putting a purse or other daily-use item in the backseat with your child to ensure you look back there. Additionally, leaving visual cues in the front seat, like a diaper bag or stuffed toy, can help remind you that precious cargo is in the back.
  • Be aware of “breaking your routine.” Ask your childcare provider to call if your child does not show up to day care when they normally do. Also, if you are dropping off your child, and it’s normally your spouse or partner’s duty, have them call you to ensure the drop-off went accordingly.
  • Never leave children unattended in a vehicle, even if the car is running or the window is cracked. Many vehicles have automatic systems that can lock you out, keeping you from your child should a situation become dangerous.
  • Warn your children about the dangers of playing in or around vehicles. Always lock your doors and keep keys out of reach, so children can’t get into the car. Also keep rear fold-down seats up to help prevent kids from getting into the trunk.
  • Call for help. If you spot a child or pet inside a locked vehicle, call 911 immediately and follow the dispatcher’s instructions.  
  
Learn More
Lockout services are just one of the many benefits a AAA membership provides to members. Visit AAA.com to discover other ways you can use your membership.

 
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