Tips Parents Should Know So Kids Stop Dying in Cars

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Safe Kids is working to prevent the needless 49 yearly deaths of children left alone in vehicles. Eighteen percent are children who are left alone intentionally in cars, often because parents ignore or don't understand the danger. Around 30 percent of those are children who got into the car themselves without a parent knowing, and 52 are children who were forgotten.

Did you just think, "What kind of mom could forget her CHILD?" It happens. It happens to the best moms. We need more awareness of how this happens and more information on prevention. Here is what you need to know:

To try to prevent children from getting into cars without parents knowing:

  • ALWAYS lock your car, even if it's in your garage.
  • Keep electronic key fobs (and your keys in general) where children can't reach them, so they can't unlock the car or pop the trunk.
  • If you can't find your child, check or send someone immediately to look in your car.
  • Teach your kids that the car is not a place to play, ever.

For the children who are unintentionally left in a car, it's important to note that you don't have to be a bad mom. You just need to forget ... one time.

I almost ALWAYS have my children with me because I am a SAHM with no family around, and I'm always itching to get out of the house and don't mind taking them. It is so ingrained in me to unlock my door, then reach in and unlock the door behind it ... even when my kids aren't there. The most common time that these unintentional accidents happen is when there is a break in routine. For someone who doesn't always have their kids with them, say a mom who normally goes to work while dad drops the kids off at daycare, it can happen, and it's terrible and happens to even the best parents.

To prevent it:

  • Put your briefcase, cellphone, and other things that are part of your ROUTINE to grab back near the kids -- and no, remembering these and almost forgetting your kid doesn't mean you have crappy priorities, it just means that you have specific habits.
  • Set your computer, phone, BlackBerry to ask you EVERY SINGLE DAY, "Where are all the kids?" at about the time you would have just dropped them off.
  • Ask your daycare or school to make phone calls within the first half an hour if a child doesn't show up without a parent calling to excuse them.
  • Make a habit of reaching back and touching each seat before you get out of your car, and doing a visual inspection every time you get out as well.

Safe Kids says if you ever see a child alone in a parking lot, IMMEDIATELY call 911 -- don't stand there and see if the parent comes back. Who knows how long the child has been there? For those who say their Fire Department won't do anything unless the child is unconscious, tell them it's an emergency and STARE at the child in case they fall unconscious. If you wait until a child looks like they're in danger before you call, it could be too late. It only takes 10 minutes for a car to heat up to a life or death situation. And yes, for those of you who leave kids alone, "just for a second," this means you might get the cops called on you -- people don't want your kids to be one of the 18 percent of deaths of kids who die in that situation, too.

Have you ever accidentally forgotten your child in your car? Are you worried about forgetting?

safety, post-birth outings, cars, travel, working moms