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Where's baby? Look before you lock!

Ten minutes is all it takes for a motor vehicle to reach deadly temperatures.

So far this year, 21 children have died in the U.S. after being left in hot cars, according to child safety group It's happened to the most loving, protective parents and well educated people.

Children who have died from vehicular hyperthermia have ranged in age from 5 days to 14 years. A child's body temperature absorbs more heat on a hot day than an adult's does.

Even with the windows partially down, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 125 degrees in minutes. Leaving the windows opened slightly does not slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature attained.

There are several factors that contribute to children being unintentionally forgotten in vehicles. Young children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their car seats and become quiet little passengers.

And sadly, for babies with rear-facing seats, the seat does not look any different from the front seat if they are occupied or empty, which can cause a parent to think the child is no longer in the car with them.

Other common factors include a change in the care-giver's normal routine, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue and distractions. When these factors combine, the ability for the brain to multi-task is lessened.

The majority of parents would like to believe that they could never "forget" their child in a vehicle. However, in more than 50 percent of these cases, the person responsible for the child's death unknowingly left them in the vehicle.

It has happened to a teacher, pediatrician, postal clerk, social worker, police officer, nurse, clergyman, electrician, accountant, soldier and even a rocket scientist. It can happen to anyone.

Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.

--Look before you lock. Get in the habit of putting something like your cell phone, handbag or briefcase in the back seat of your vehicle, so every time you reach your destination you look to make sure no child has been left behind.

--Keep a stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it's not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat as a reminder that the child is in back.

--Make arrangements with day care that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.

--Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway.

--Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.

--When a child is missing, check vehicles immediately.

--If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 immediately.

--Use drive-thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, etc.).

--Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.