7 Tips to Ensure You Don't Leave Your Baby in a Hot Car (Yes, You)

car seatHere's something terrifying: So far this year alone, 15 kids have died from heatstroke after being left in their parents' cars -- and it's only July. According to KidsandCars.org, on average, 38 children die every year from vehicular heatstroke after being forgotten in cars. Now, you may think you're not the "type" to leave your child in your car, but the scary reality is there is no type. In the last decade alone, parents from all walks of life -- pediatricians, soldiers, nurses, rocket scientists -- have accidentally left their kids in the car with dire results.

More From The Stir: 'I Left My Baby in a Hot Car': One Mom Shares Her Tragic Story

"The stories of these deaths often follow the same trend: parents falling out of their usual routines, or leaving their children in the hands of others who are not normally involved in caretaking," says Deborah Hersman, president & CEO of the National Safety Council. "While most stories don’t occupy national headlines, the end result is the same. A life ending too soon."

Whether you think you would never in a million years forget your child in the car, please read these 7 tips for making sure you don't leave your child in the car this summer. Better to be safe than sorry.

7 Tricks to Prevent Leaving Baby in a Hot Car

  1. Place an object in your back seat. Parents should put something in the back of their vehicle that requires them to open the back door every time they park, such as a cellphone, employee badge, handbag, lunch, or even a shoe. "The phone is my first choice since we also want to encourage drivers to focus on the road while driving and let phone calls wait," says Amy Artuso Heinzen, Program Manager for the National Safety Council.
  2. Keep a large stuffed animal in the carseat. When you're driving with your baby in the car, place the stuffed animal on the front seat as a reminder that your baby is with you. "Doing this serves as a visual reminder that any time the stuffed animal is up front, the baby is in the back," says Janette Fennell, founder & president of KidsandCars.org
  3. Make it routine to open the back door of your car every time you get out. Channel your inner obsessive-compulsive and make it a habit to open the back door, regardless of who's riding with you. This way, you'll never forget to check your back seat when your baby is with you.
  4. Ask your child care provider to call you if your child hasn't arrived as scheduled. Too often children are left in cars due to the fact that the person watching them isn't familiar with their routine or safety precautions. Not only should you check to make sure your child is where she's supposed to be, it's important you educate anyone who's going to be watching your child on car safety.
  5. Keep keys and remote openers out of children's reach. Sadly, there have been cases where children have died from being stuck inside a car when they're the ones who've locked themselves in. It's crucial small children don't have access to cars when parents aren't around. And on the same token, "parents should always keep their vehicles locked -- even when they're in the garage or driveway," explains Fennell.
  6. If you spot a child alone in a car, don't hesitate -- call 911 immediately. Think you're acting rash? Think again. "Children’s bodies do not regulate temperature like adults," notes Heinzen. "Heatstroke can occur in a very short amount of time."
  7. Pay especially close attention during schedule changes or holidays, when you’re more distracted. "We have heard repeatedly from families who have suffered this tragedy that a child was left in the car when they were outside of their normal routines, such as a change in child care plan or after a doctor visit," says Heinzen. Make an effort to be extra vigilant when you know you've got a lot going on.

Do you have any tricks for making sure you remember your child is in the back seat?


Images via © istock.com/HStarr; © Tracy Kahn/CORBIS



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Kattey Kattey

This is a really important article. I know many people can't understand how anyone could forget their child, that means the parents must be bad people, and this is not the case. Sure on one level I can't understand forgetting my child because I've made some of these habits, like always checking the back seat.

IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE BECAUSE SCIENCE!!!!!!! That's the key point that many people miss. This isn't just an emotional or negligent issue. There is a legitimate science to how the brain can fool us into thinking "I dropped my child off", it can make us remember a conversation we never had.

I think one of the saddest facts though, is that instead of taking an article like this to heart, the people who may need the info most will ignore it because "this will never happen to me, I love my child". This isn't about whether your child is a priority or not, or you love them or not. It can happen to anyone, especially when routines change or your over exhausted.

Please people, instead of being judgemental, just pass along these tips and use them yourselves. Share them with any new moms you may know, require sometimes caregivers to have a certain rule they follow when watching a child.

nonmember avatar krystian

Again, I still don't get it.

I've never once forgot my child, how could you forget a child?

Secondly, I honestly do believe that some of these people are now,doing it on purpose to get attention.

I check the back seat all of the time.....even when I don't have my kids with me.

Kattey Kattey

Krystian doesn't understand science. All she understands is being a judgemental cow.  I really need to post a link to that article.

Kattey Kattey

Here is the Washington Post article that discusses how the brain can forget and mishandle the information. Hopefully someone will read it and understand that on an emotional level we may not "get" how someone can forget, but on a logical level it is possible. Spread actual information to prevent this from happening, not blame.


nonmember avatar TJ

Try leaving your purse, briefcase, or laptop bag in the backseat

BabyL... BabyLadyG12

My trick for remembering my kids is: complete, total and abject fear of driving. I hate driving--it feels like confronting death to me everytime I get behind the wheel. I am on such heightened alert when I drive that I am hyperaware of everything.

I understand how this could happen to someone (I have had times where I've autopiloted and just done something without recalling doing it), but until I stop completely fearing driving, hopefully it won't be any issue for me.

POWmom01 POWmom01

Yikes gamer_mom1 & Kattey, seems a little harsh. There is a better way to say you disagree with someone that insults and cuss words. (Although I don't agree with krystian's entire comment)

I don't understand it either. I have read the articles regarding mis-remembering etc but I still did not understand. I try not to judge because I don't know anyone's personal situation or circumstances. But there seems to be a lot of cases in which the child is intentionally left in the vehicle while someone  "runs in for a second". I feel like this would give those types of parents the okay to leave their child in the car because they have a fail safe or worst, some parents will use this for a babysitter. 

During the past month I have changed my habits in regards to the car due to all the stories I have read recently and articles regarding mis-remembering. I throw my stuff into the backseat floor now instead of the passenger seat and make myself get out of the car and open the rear door to retrive them, not reaching over to the back. I am all for saving a child's life.

nonmember avatar Tootsie

If you are that ignorant that you forget you have a kid, then you shouldnt be a parent. Idk how "out of routine" you get, there is no excuse. Putting your purse in the back seat to remind you that your child is there only says you value materials over your kid. This has nothing to do with science, this is people being complete morons. Idgaf who disagrees. Those who disagree are probably have done it themselves. Idiots There is NO excuse.

Kattey Kattey

POWmom, I know I seem harsh, but comments like Tootsie's enrage me. She doesn't get it, so therefore she is an expert and science plays no part. That contributes nothing to the situation, except maybe shaming someone. Perhaps there is someone who would use the purse/backseat trick to try to develop a routine of always checking the back, then they read comments like Tootsie's and think "I must be a shitty parent then, I just need to try harder and not use material tricks, other parents don't need them" and a month later their child is dead because Tootsie is a bitch.

As a side note, it's not about valuing material things over your child that makes the item in the backseat work. What makes it work is that you may not always have your child with you, but odds are you always have your purse. That is what builds the habit of checking the backseat. You aren't doing it just because you have a child, you are ALWAYS reaching in back. It becomes habit, and then whether the child is with you or not, you always look, reducing the odds of forgetting a child.


Kattey Kattey

You do make a good point about those who run in just for a second, though. I think another thing people forget is that there is a difference between those who forgot and lost a child, versus those who purposely left their child and where gone too long. One is an accident that can happen whenever, where ever, too whoever. The other is an intentional act. The two should never becompared because circumstances are different in the mindset of the parent.

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