Are you tired? Busy? Late? Distracted? If you have a young child, then
you can probably answer "yes" to all of those questions, and
they are factors frequently at play when a young child is forgotten in
a car. Most often, this scenario plays out when one adult thinks the other
has gotten the baby out of the car, there is a change of routine, a tired
parent forgets to drop off a child at daycare, or there is any situation
in which an infant or young child is sleeping quietly in the back seat.
“I feel very strongly they are failures of memory and not failures
of love," says Janette Fennell, president and founder of
Kids and Cars.
Children and infants are particularly affected by hot environments because
their systems aren't developed enough to adequately regulate their
body temperature. On a typical New Orleans summer day, the temperature
outside can easily heat a car interior to 130°F in a matter of minutes,
quickly pushing a youngster’s core body temp to fatal heat stroke levels.
So it goes without saying that you should never, ever leave your child
unattended in the car, even on a mild day or with the windows down. But
what about preventing tragic mistakes and
car accidents? It turns out there are several strategies experts recommend:
1. Get in the habit of always checking the backseat for forgotten items
as you lock the car.
2. Place a reminder of your child, such as the diaper bag, in the front
passenger seat. You can also designate a special stuffed animal to ride
shotgun every time your child is riding with you.
3. Another incredibly simple but effective strategy is to put something
you need next to your child in the back seat. Your left shoe is a frequent
suggestion, but your purse, briefcase, or electronic device would also work.
4. Most importantly, Ms. Fennell advises parents to be aware that EVERY
human brain has the capacity to fail when the "habit" memory
overrides the "prospective" memory, so be extra-vigilant with
any change of routine.
Also be alert to the dangers of hot cars for older, mobile children. They
can quickly become disoriented from heat and unable to get out. Talk to
your kids about not playing in the car or entering the vehicle without
an adult. In addition, always lock the car, even in your driveway, and
keep key fobs out of reach of children. Experts also recommend that if
your child is missing, you should do a thorough check of any nearby parked cars.
We hope these tips have been helpful. The Womac Law Firm wishes you and
your family a safe and happy summer.