HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling on the federal government to intensify a recently launched campaign that raises awareness of leaving children in hot cars.

In May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an ad campaign calling on parents and those tending to children to ask themselves as they exit the car, “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.”

But Blumenthal said the ads are not getting the necessary exposure.

“Put them on at prime time so parents become aware of the grave and imminent threat of keeping children in these overheated cars,” Blumenthal told WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau.

More than three dozen children die of hyperthermia in cars annually in the United States, and since 1998 more than 500 children have died in hot cars. Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees, and car interiors can reach well over 110 degrees even when the outside temperature is in the 60s.

On Monday, a 15-month-old Ridgefield boy died after being left in a car on a hot day. Ridgefield Police Capt. Jeff Kreitz said the boy had been left inside the car for an “extended period of time,” but police were still trying to determine exactly how long. Temperatures in western Connecticut reached into the upper 80s on Monday.

Here are some tips from safety advocates on avoiding accidental deaths in hot cars:

— Never leave children alone in a vehicle to run even a short errand. Use drive-thru windows at banks, dry cleaners and restaurants whenever possible. Use a debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.

— Put a purse, cellphone or other item you will need in the back seat of your car. This will ensure that you check the back seat before leaving the vehicle.

— Make a habit of opening the back door of your car and checking the back seat whenever you exit it.

— Keep a stuffed animal or toy in your child’s unoccupied car seat. Put that item in the front seat when you place the child in the seat as a reminder that the child is in the back of the car.

— If a child is missing, immediately check the car, including the trunk.

— If you see a young child who is unresponsive or in great distress alone in a hot vehicle, get the child out and call 911.

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