As parents we try to do everything we can to protect our children. I think mothers, especially, feel they have to be flawless in their child rearing. Women are queens of multi-tasking. We have so many things running through our crazy heads at any given time – from ensuring the kids have their hair combed, teeth brushed, are wearing matching socks, have a balanced lunch box packed, bring gifts for teachers, prepare dessert for the bake sale, sign up for parent volunteer day, remember carpool tomorrow, don’t forget uniform money is due, sign medical waiver…. the list goes on and on. So, how is it that we can remember all those things and forget our kid?
Since 1998, more than 500 children across the US have died from heat stroke when unattended in a vehicle. This has happened in nearly all 50 states – not just the “hot ones.”
It’s easy for us to lambast the parent when we hear a news report of how mom/dad drove to work and left their child in the hot car. “HOW COULD THEY FORGET THEIR BABY!?” We slam them!
Truth is, we forget too. You know you have done it. If you say you haven’t, I don’t believe you. Sure, maybe you haven’t forgotten your child in a car, per se. But haven’t you been doing laundry and forgotten the baby was sleeping so soundly that you missed his feeding? Or, haven’t you been caught on the phone with a family member and suddenly remembered that your baby was quietly sitting in his car seat because the phone rang as soon as you walked in the door? It happens. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you an honest one.
Once we can admit that we are capable of forgetting something as precious as our babies, then we can start doing the necessary things to prevent something terrible (like leaving them in a car) from ever happening. Out of the 500 deaths mentioned, 52 percent were because the child was “forgotten.” These parents were educated people, some teachers even, that simply were too distracted at that precise moment when the “forgetting” occurred.
So let’s fix this and ACT – Avoid. Create reminders. Take action.
- Establish a peace of mind plan. When you drop off a child, make a habit of calling your spouse or a family member so all of you know where your kids are at all times.
- Put a purse, briefcase, gym back or cell phone next to the child so that when you get out of the car, you have to get it from the back seat.
- Set the alarm on our computer or phone as a reminder to drop of your kids at daycare.
- NEVER let you child “play” in the car or be left in the car for a moment unattended. They could get trapped or locked inside accidentally.
A child’s body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in only 10 minutes. (Leaving the windows cracked has no effect on the inside temperature.)
Summer is coming, and in many states, the heat has already begun. Don’t let your pride or distractions keep you from staying on top of your children’s safety. We are human and accidents can happen.
Share this message with your children’s school, childcare, family and friends. We can all make a difference.
Statistics courtesy of Dayton Children’s and SafeKids.org
- How fast does your car heat up? (click2houston.com)
- Police: Baby died after forgotten in car (kshb.com)
- Pair rescue tots from hot car (windsorstar.com)
- Forgotten baby syndrome: It seems unthinkable – accidentally leaving your baby for hours, but lots of busy parents do it with devastating consequences (dailymail.co.uk)
- Parent warning: Hot weather coming, don’t leave baby alone in car (csmonitor.com)