Every summer we hear the same terrifying stories about children left in hot cars. You think, how can this happen? Know that this can happen to anyone. How easily do we slip into our normal routine and end up on auto pilot driving and most times not even remembering where we’ve just been. Now think how you could do that with a rear-facing car seat and a sleeping baby in back.
Conversely, think about a time when you had your child in the back seat and it was not a normal day — maybe your husband normally took her to day care but he had an early meeting so it was your turn. Since you don’t typically have your baby in your car in the mornings, it would have been so easy to forget she was there.
This happens to well-meaning and loving parents every year. Janette Fennell, president and founder of Kids and Cars, a nonprofit focused on improving child safety around cars says, “I feel very strongly they are failures of memory and not failures of love.”
What can you do to make sure this never happens to you or your family? Fennell recommends these 7 tips that every parent should follow:
1. Look before you lock.
Open the backdoor and look in the backseat to assure that everyone is out of the car – every single time!
2. Keep something you need in the backseat.
Put your cell phone, briefcase, computer, lunch, ID badge, left shoe, or anything essential to your daily routine beside your child.
3. Travel with a furry companion.
Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When baby is in the seat, the stuffed animal rides shotgun. The furry passenger serves as a reminder that baby’s in the back.
4. Always lock the doors.
Even if the car is in the garage, keep the doors locked to prevent curious children from getting into the car.
5. Put the keys and fobs away.
Kids might want to play with keys and be able to get into the car without parents knowledge.
6. Have a plan with childcare provider.
If your child does not show up to daycare or school without prior notice, someone should call to locate child.
7. If you see something, do something.
If you see a child alone in a car, do not hesitate to call 911.
“The biggest mistake people make is thinking it can’t happen to them,” Fennell says.