HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) -- After numerous children have died in hot cars, an automobile industry trade group is offering free window decals to remind people that children should never be left alone in vehicles.
The Washington-based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said Monday it's offering the clingy, plastic ovals for distribution through public health agencies, schools and daycare centers in the Washington, D.C., area, and to the public through the website www.itsthatserious.org .
The decals, 7 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches, show a youngster in a car safety seat beside the words, "Never Leave a Child Alone in a Car." Another caption urges the readers to call 911 if they see a child unattended in a car. The decals are available in English and Spanish.
The decals spring from a Safe Kids public education campaign the automaker group joined in 2010, and a "Look Before You Lock" campaign launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012 to remind people that leaving children alone in cars can be fatal, especially in the summer heat.
At least 18 children have died in hot cars this year in the United States, according to the nonprofit child safety group KidsAndCars.org.
They include a 22-month-old Georgia boy whose father is charged with murder on suspicion of intentionally leaving the child in a hot car. In another recent case, reported Friday in Wichita, Kansas, a 10-month-old girl died after being left inside hot car.
The carmaker group also aims to give the decals away at entrances to large retail stores, spokesman Wade Newton said in a telephone interview.
The Frederick County Health Department in Frederick, about 40 miles from Washington, ordered several hundred decals and began giving them away Monday, said Miriam Dobson, supervisor of the maternal child health program.
"We've spoken to parents in our lobby at the health department, and they were very enthusiastic," she said.
"The whole premise is to serve as a reminder to parents when they step out of the car to check and make sure that that child is not in the car," she said. "This doesn't just happen to careless parents, it happens to anybody."