I have written about this before, but feel that the topic is so important that every parent and those transporting children could use a reminder. It is easy to wonder how a child can be left in a car, but it happens more often than you would expect, to even the most diligent parents and caretakers. When people become distracted or take a detour from their normal routine and a child is sleeping or sitting quietly in the back seat, mistakes happen. But, establishing a plan can help to prevent a tragic scenario.
Studies show that on a day that is only 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature in a closed vehicle, or even with the windows left partially open, can increase by 30 to 40 degrees in an hour, and 70% of this increase occurs the first 30 minutes. This often results in heat stroke, which occurs when body temperature passes 104 degrees Fahrenheit, producing dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, loss of consciousness, and/or death. Hypothermia can also be caused by leaving a child in a vehicle on a cold day.
For those reasons, you should also never purposely leave a child in a car. No matter how long you will be gone or how cumbersome it is to bring the child with you. If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle, you should call 911.
I encourage you to develop a plan that works for you to ensure the safety of the children in your life. Here are some ideas:
• Look at the entire inside of the vehicle before locking the doors every time you exit the vehicle.
• Keep a stuffed animal or other item in the car seat. When the child is in the car seat, place the item in the front with the driver.
• Place your purse, briefcase, or the diaper bag in the back seat near the child so you will be forced to retrieve it when exiting the vehicle.
• Have a plan that your child’s caregiver will call you if the child does not show up for daycare or school.