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

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buffa... buffalove23

I have to say this is one of my biggest fears, just one time is all it takes for it to become your worst nightmares

nonmember avatar Julie

This is one of my biggest fears too. Everytime I get in the car I make sure I know where all 3 of my kids are. It might be a little silly but it helps me feel like I know exactly what is going on with them.

I also can't get over people who do it on purpose.

Shanin22 Shanin22

I did when my son was a few months old. In a panic to get into the bank before it closed I parked the car, locked it, and ran inside. I waited in line for a minute or two before the sudden realization that my son wasn't with me. I still remember the panic as I ran from the bank and out to my car. Luckily it was parked directly in front of the bank where I could see it through the glass doors and it was winter in AZ so it was only 65-70 degrees outside. My son was in no real danger and slept through the whole thing. But those two minutes of forgetfulness still haunt and scare me. Now I check the car seats as habit every time I exit a car, even if my kids aren't with me.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

Not in the car. But I did leave my oldest in the house once when he was a baby. I didn't even manage to leave the driveway, but still. I do worry about it, it could happen to anybody.

k_hal... k_hall1784

I am guilty of leaving my kids in the car to pay for gas and such. I honestly don't think it makes much sense to take all three of my kids out of their car seats just to walk 30ft and pay for gas that takes all of 30 seconds. I won't leave my kids alone for longer than a min or two and I can always see the car from where I am.

cara75 cara75

Thanks for this important reminder. I live in central texas where it's usually over 100 degrees every day of july and august. Every year we hear about a few kids that die because they're left in their car. When it's 110 degrees outside (and it does get that hot here), it takes very little time for the inside of the car to heat up to deadly temperatures.

Nicho... NicholasMama608

Nope.  I've never forgotten about my child.  Any parent that forgets their child and that child dies in the car, should be charged with murder.  If you are too dumb that you need a reminder on your cell phone or you need to put your purse in the back then you probably shouldn't have children.  I mean really, how hard is it to know where your child(ren) is(are)?

Addys... Addys_Mom

I couldn't ever forget my kids because they are old enough now that they make SURE they are remembered. If i started getting out without them they make some noise to let me know they are there. But i do see how it could happen.

purpl... purplepolkadots

Christie, I know I don't say this often, but right on! Nicholasmama, accidents tend to happen when we are too comfortable to prepare for them. Smarter to take precautions then to think you're too good of a mom to need them.

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