BOISE, Idaho — The city of Boise kicked off its "Look Before You Lock" campaign, which looks to educate the public on safe practices around your car during warm weather.
The campaign is in its fourth year and brings together agencies and businesses around the Treasure Valley to remind everyone of the dangers of leaving kids, pets, and vulnerable loved ones inside cars.
In the U.S., children and pets die from heatstroke every year from being left in a hot car.
"Heatstroke happens when the child's body is unable to cool itself quickly enough and neurologic symptoms begin," Dr. Kenny Bramwell, St. Luke's Children's Medical Director and Emergency Physician, said. "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 Idaho, nine children have died from heatstroke after being left in a car since 1995, many of which were on days considered "not too hot".
Even with the windows cracked, the inside of a car can heat up fast. When it is 75 degrees outside, the inside of a car can heat up internally to 94 degrees within ten short minutes, and 109 degrees in 30 minutes.
"Responding to these calls is something that a first responder never wants to see," Chief Shawn Rayne with the Ada County Paramedics said. "We want this message out there so that it is on everyone's mind, every day. This is something that is preventable, by taking a moment to look before you lock."
In most cases when an individual or pet is left in a hot car, it is an accident. Even the best parent or caregiver can unknowingly leave a sleeping child in a car.
"Last year, the Idaho Humane Society responded to 408 calls of pets locked in hot cars right here in the Treasure Valley," Kristine Schellhaas, public relations manager for the Idaho Humane Society said. "Unfortunately, pets die each year in hot vehicles or live with long-lasting health consequences from suffering in hot cars. Please set your pet up for success by leaving them at home or finding alternative arrangements."
To help bring awareness to this issue, 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 as part of the "Look Before You Lock" campaign.
"If we all remember to share this reminder throughout the warm spring and summer months, who knows the lives we will save," Ed Fritz with the Boise Police Crime Prevention unit said.
This year Kevin and Brenda from 101.9 The Bull are also participating to share the "Look Before You Lock" message throughout the summer.
The public is also invited to participate by going to the Meridian or Boise Police Department to pick up a "Look Before You Lock" window cling to put in their car; or by downloading the flyer to hang on the front door of their home or business.
Tips to protect 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.
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