May 24, 2024

NEWS RELEASE: Parents and caregivers are urged to look before they lock their cars to avoid leaving children in hot vehicles

IMPERIAL COUNTY – The Imperial County Public Health Department (ICPHD), Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency is warning local residents about the dangers of heatstroke. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) and El Centro Fire Department join efforts each year with ICPHD EMS to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.

“As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises,” said Andrew Miller, Battalion Chief with El Centro Fire Department. “What is most tragic is that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.”
The ICPHD EMS Agency, CHP, and El Centro Fire Department
ask parents and caregivers to do these three things:
1. NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended even if the engine is running and the air conditioner is turned on.
2. Make it a habit to look in the backseat EVERY time you exit the car; and
3. ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach.
Parents should know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include red, hot, and dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose, NEVER an ice bath. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Eleven years ago, NHTSA launched a public education campaign, “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock,” in the hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache. Posters have been shared with local pediatricians, healthcare providers, and childcare sites to promote the campaign.
Children’s body temperatures can rise five to five times faster than that of adults. According to NHTSA Traffic Safety Marketing, in 2023, 29 children lost their lives due to heatstroke from being left in hot vehicles. The average number of U.S. child heatstroke fatalities per year since 1998 is 38.
To learn more about NHTSA’s “Where’s Baby? Look before you Lock.” campaign, visit