Health & Safety
How to Avoid Tragedy in the Backseat
Each year we hear of parents that are faced with the tragic accidental deaths of children who have been left alone in hot cars. From a few seconds to a few minutes, a child is put at risk whenever left unattended in any situation. Other car related accidents involve older children climbing unknowingly in a parked car and becoming trapped inside. Parents have found that there are a number of circumstances that can allow fatigue and stress to temporarily cause them to lose track of their agenda, and may inadvertently forget that a child may be strapped in the backseat.
The inside of a car has a greenhouse effect. In thirty minutes or less, experts predict that a car’s interior can heat up more than 35 degrees. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable because their bodies are unable to regulate temperature the same manner as grownups.
Parents take all precautions when child proofing their homes but the car is often overlooked.
Tips for avoiding hot-car deaths
- Place personal articles such as purses, cell phones and briefcases on the backseat to ensure that you look in that area before leaving the car.
- Seat your younger children behind the front passenger seat where they are more likely to be in your eyesight.
- Keep a reminder such as a stuffed animal in your child’s seat when your child is not in the seat. Place the object on the front seat when the baby is on board as a reminder.
- Request that your sitter or staff at your child care program call to check on your baby when they are not present.
- Start a routine of opening your back door to check the backseat before leaving your car.
- Avoid making the assumption that your child has been removed from the car by a spouse or other relative.
- Keep visual clues in your office and home.
- Make sure that the doors to all parked vehicles are locked at all times.
- Hang keys out of reach of young children.
- If you see a child that has been left alone in a vehicle, do not hesitate to get involved. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- You can access www.safekids.org for further information about car safety or call PAL @ 1-866-962-3030.