A police department in Missouri is going the extra mile to help remind parents to check for their child in the car before exiting, in an effort to prevent heat-related deaths.
In a Facebook post on June 25, the O’Fallon Missouri Police Department announced that they were giving out free tags for parents to hang in their rearview mirrors “to ensure your most prized possession is safe.”
One side of the bright-yellow sign reads, “WHERE’S BABY? LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK!” while on the other side, it says, “Never leave a child alone in a vehicle — not even for a minute!” and, underneath, “BABY IN THE BACK! Heat-related deaths are preventable.”
“So far this year 13 children have died in the US after being left in hot cars, including one in St. Louis County earlier this month,” the post shared, adding that “hangers are free to the public starting tomorrow” and listing the locations they would be available.
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The post came three weeks after police began investigating the death of a 11-month-old girl, who died in early June after she was left inside a hot car in the nearby town of Calverton Park and first responders were unable to revive her.
“Unfortunately the child passed away from the heat,” Calverton Park Police spokesman Chris Robertson told PEOPLE at the time. “It was approximately 79 degrees that afternoon and inside a vehicle it gets much hotter. The timeline looks to be about 15 or 16 hours the child was left in the vehicle.”
Comments on the O’Fallon Missouri Police Department’s post lauded them for doing their part to help parents keep their children safe in warmer temperatures.
“What a wonderful idea and making it available to the public is [awesome],” one Facebook user praised. “Children are our most precious gifts that we have been allowed to watch over, guide and protect.”
“I love how you guys are rolling out these and other small notables to think outside of the box to keep us safe! You guys are awesome!” a second resident chimed in.
“Thank you for taking action on this topic,” said a third. “People get all judgmental about it, but unfortunately, it sometimes happens. Usually during a change in routine. I organize a safety fair in my community and I have never been able to get anyone to address the topic here in St. Louis. I appreciate your work to raise awareness.”
The Centers for Disease Control say it’s never safe to leave children unattended in a car in any weather, even with the window cracked open. To remember that a child is in the car, they recommend keeping a stuffed animal in the child’s car seat on days when they’re not, and moving the stuffed animal to the front passenger seat when the child is there as a reminder.
There are also several companies who created devices that remind parents to remove their child. In 2017, an 11-year-old boy invented one called Oasis, that senses when the car has stopped moving or if the temperature is rising and blows out cold air, while alerting parents with a text message.
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