Dear Abby: In a recent column, your readers were reminded to never leave their dogs and other pets inside cars during the warm summer months. In that vein, I would like to bring to your attention a more common practice than some would think: children left in the car by well-meaning parents during a hectic day of running errands or driving the kids to various activities.

Since 1998, the New Jersey Department of Human Services has promoted the "Not Even for a Minute" campaign, which warns against the dangers of leaving children in a car alone. Window decals and posters distributed through day-care centers, schools, police stations, retailers, the AAA and new car dealers remind parents not to leave their children in cars, "Not Even for a Minute."

Children's health experts warn that on a breezy day with the outside temperature only in the low 70s, a closed automobile can heat up to 125 degrees within 15 minutes. Even with the windows cracked, a small child can dehydrate within minutes. The result can be deadly, as the family of a 13-month-old baby in New Jersey recently learned.

Whatever the season, leaving children alone in cars is risky. In less than a minute, a child can climb out of a car seat and shift the car into gear. And it takes only a minute for someone to break into a vehicle and abduct a child.

It's easy to underestimate the time a child will be left alone in an automobile. We've all had the experience of finding ourselves standing in the unexpected line or of running into someone we know, having a conversation and losing track of time.

Abby, please urge your readers to make themselves a promise: When you walk away from your car, take your child, too. It takes only a minute. — Michele K. Guhl, Commissioner, N.J. Department of Human Services

Dear Michele: Thank you for an important letter. There is nothing more precious than a child's life. I hope all parents heed your warning — and other states initiate similar campaigns.

Dear Abby: Last January, my boss promised to give me a raise for taking on a new responsibility at work. This responsibility involved taking a class away from home, which I completed.

Now that I've taken the class and am doing the work, he tells me there is no money in the budget for the promised raise (even though he just bought a new vehicle for the office) and says I'm doing the work anyway — so why should I get the raise?

Should I refuse to do any more work associated with this added responsibility, or just keep doing it and hope for the best later on? — Taken Advantage of in Kansas

Dear Taken: You'd be wise to look for another job. Your employer is ethically challenged, and it's unrealistic to hope he'll change "later on." If you opt to remain with this company and your boss makes any more promises, get them in writing.

Dear Abby:How do you know when a guy is thinking about marriage? What sign should I be looking for? — Wanna-be Wife, North Providence, R.I.

Dear Wanna-be: An engagement ring.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.) © Universal Press Syndicate