(WTVM) - It happened in a heartbeat.
A 2-year-old Georgia girl climbed into an open car door last week and got trapped inside. It didn't take long for the car to become a deadly hotbox.
The girl's death is now the latest reminder that hot cars kill.
Children must never be allowed to play in or around an unlocked car. And parents should never - for any reason - leave a child unattended inside a car while they run into a store.
The price is just too steep. Every year, almost 40 children die of heatstroke in cars.
In a detailed examination of 606 child heatstroke deaths in cars from 1998 through 2013, a California study found:
52% were children "forgotten" by a caregiver - that's 316 children.
29% were children playing in unattended vehicle.
18% were children -- hard as this is to believe -- intentionally left in vehicle by an adult.
That's 108 children lost, and half of all these children were 2 years old or younger.
This kind of tragedy can happen even to good parents but it can also be prevented with extra effort to stay mindful of your baby in the car on every trip.
Experts say place your cell phone or purse near the baby seat so you will remember to retrieve it -- and the baby -- when you get to your destination.
Some car seats can be equipped with alarms and a keychain sensor that goes off if you leave the baby in the seat after you exit the car.
Lock your empty car when it's parked even if it's at home.
Use whatever method will work for you.
It's not easy in our distracted world but please remember the best safeguard is knowing where your child is at all times.
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906