Look before you lock.
That's the message from lawmakers and health experts to help keep children safe through the end of the summer.
The Connecticut Children's Medical Center has teamed up with Yale New Haven Hospital to educate and bring awareness.
They launched a new campaign to spread the word about the dangers of leaving young people in hot cars. It's expected to result in new billboards and reminders on the radio and in other media.
"Parents should be asking themselves ‘what I am thinking, how long am I going to be gone?'" said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash-related deaths for children ages 14 and older. Experts said it's because it often happens in hot cars.
Lawmakers like Blumenthal said it's preventable.
"For some reason, there's a lack of awareness," Blumenthal said.
Through a $100,000 grant from the Department of Transportation, lawmakers are launching the "Look Before You Lock" campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving children locked in cars.
"It's incumbent upon us that we are aware if we are in a parking garage and see children that are left in a car unattended, that we make someone aware of it," said Brendan Campbell, of the Connecticut Children's Medical Center pediatric trauma center.
Police said there have been six reported cases of children being left in hot vehicles in Connecticut just in July alone, including a 15-month-old boy who died from heatstroke in Ridgefield.
They said Benjamin Seitz died after his father left him alone in a hot car for an extended period of time. Benjamin's father was supposed to drop him off at daycare, but instead went to work.
Ridgefield police said they were still investigating.
Health experts said the body temperature of a child can increase five times faster than an adult. So far this year, 16 children in the U.S. died after being left in hot cars, and every year, about 38 children in the United States die in hot cars.
"I can't even fathom leaving a child in the car, it's never a second thought, I immediately get them out of the car," said Kristen Dignazio of West Hartford, adding that she thinks the increase in awareness on the federal level is important as well.
They recommended taking off the left shoe and putting it in the backseat with the child. That way, it's a reminder that they're there.
They also said to be sure the car was locked when it's parked in the driveway so children don't sneak into it.
"An education campaign would be wonderful, we all need reminders. We are busy, and one change in the routine and something horrendous could happen," said new parent Christina Vida of West Hartford.
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