O’Fallon Missouri Police Department is providing families with signs warning parents to check the back seat for their kids before leaving the car.

police department signs preventing hot car deaths
O'Fallon Missouri Police Department

The police department in O’Fallon, Missouri wants to prevent babies and children from dying in hot cars this summer by providing families with signs for their rear-view mirrors to remind them to check the back seat before leaving their cars.

“In the continuing effort to provide the best level of service possible to our residents, the OPD is offering these rearview mirror reminders to ensure your most prized possession is safe,” the department posted on Facebook.

The signs read, “Where’s Baby?” and “Baby in the back! Heat-related deaths are preventable. Never leave a child alone in a vehicle—not even for a minute!” The police department Facebook post also listed several locations where parents can pick up the signs for free.

No parent ever imagines this tragedy striking their family but every summer, these deaths do occur. At least 10 children have died in hot cars this year already, including one in St. Louis County near O’Fallon. Last year, 52 kids and babies died this way, according to the National Safety Council. More than half of these deaths were because a child was forgotten in a car; nearly a quarter occurred at parking lot at a parent or caregiver’s workplace while they were working.

Babies and kids’ bodies heat up a lot faster than adults and can’t cool down as easily. If little ones’ body temperatures reach 104 degrees, their internal organs start to shut down. And it takes a very short time—sometimes only 10 minutes—for a car to reach dangerous temperatures on a hot day. So kids should never be left in the car, not even for a few moments.

If you want to copy the O’Fallon PD’s potentially life-saving idea, you can swap your rearview mirror air freshener for your own version of the sign. Want to get cute with it? Add your kids’ names to the sign and make it part of a verbal game. Seat belt off and “Where’s Baby?”

Now we all know our eyes adjust to signs after a while (as the commenters on the O’Fallon PD Facebook post pointed out), so feel free to switch up the placement of your reminder. You could add a sticker to your door handle, key fob, or anywhere you look before walking away from your car. The National Safety Council also suggests putting work necessities such as a purse or briefcase in the back seat with your child so that you always have to open that back door and double check the back seat, no matter if your child chattering away or snoozing in a car seat.