Preventing Hot Car Tragedy

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This is the time of year when the weather warms up and the news becomes filled with horror stories of babies and toddlers accidentally forgotten in the backseat of a car. Instead of waiting for the tragedies to hit the headlines, start taking precautions now that will help ensure that it will never happen to you.

The issue of children overheating in cars is not a simple one. Sometimes it happens with changes in routines that cause parents to forget that the child is there. Sometimes it is intentionally leaving a child there for the convenience. What they have in common is that no one plans for the outcome.

Children who are rear-facing, have the potential to nap in the car or who cannot get out of their car seat on their own are the most at risk.

Here are some ways to prevent heat stroke and death in a hot car:

  1. Don’t leave your child in the car on purpose, not unless you can see and hear them. We aren’t suggesting you should become a hyper-vigilant, paranoid person about this, but make sure that your child can be seen and heard if you are out of the car and they are in it. Even if the windows are down, your car is going to heat up more than outdoors and have less breeze. Children and babies cannot cool their bodies the same way that adults can, so your child will overheat faster than you would, when you may not be breaking a sweat yet.
  2. Lock your car doors when you leave it (with your kid!) so that your child cannot sneak back in while playing. Keep your keys out of reach inside the house.
  3. Always put your purse, your phone, and anything else you will need at your destination in the backseat with your child.
  4. Arrange the car seats in your vehicle so that if possible, the quietest/youngest child is behind the passenger where they’re more likely to be seen, instead of behind the driver.
  5. Never assume that someone else has gotten your child from the vehicle – always do it yourself or ask immediately.
  6. When there is a change in schedule, change in route, etc., take extra precautions: put a toy in your lap, play kids music on the radio, put the diaper bag directly beside you – do SOMETHING to jog your memory and remind you that there’s someone back there.
  7. If your child goes to daycare, check with them about their policy regarding unplanned absences and see if they have the policy of calling home/work to find out where your child is.
  8. Make sure that anyone else transporting your children (spouse, grandparents, friends, etc.) are aware of the dangers and take precautions also.
  9. Don’t assume that this won’t happen to you.

Keep your eyes open! At work, at the mall, when you’re out, have a quick glance in other people’s cars. Yes, you might seem creepy, so maybe just stick to the one’s with car seats and if caught, say you’re in the market for a new one and ask if they like it ;)

All of the above applies to pets as well. No one likes seeing an overheated dog trapped in a car! Cracking the window is not helping the heat, so don’t leave them in the car.