It is too easy for harried parents or distracted caregivers to overlook a sleeping baby in a car. The end result can be a tragic child injury and death.
It’s getting hotter out there. And while it may sound simple to tell people to never leave young children in cars in the summer — or anytime for that matter — it still happens all too often. Many people think it’s okay even “for a couple of minutes.” But every year, children die from heat stroke (hyperthermia) because they were left in hot cars.
According to the nonprofit safety group Kidsandcars.org, every year an average of 38 children die in hot cars from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside. And more than 600 U.S. children have died when left alone in cars since 1990.
Our attorneys often get questions from parents on the best ways to keep their kids safe in the car. Here’s a helpful safety list:
- Never leave children alone in cars. Not even for a minute.
- Put something you’ll need on the floor board in the back seat. Such as your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc.
- Get in the habit of opening the back door of your car every time you reach your destination. This will help you make sure no child has been left. It’s called “look before you lock.”
- Keep a large stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front. This is a visual reminder that your child is in the back seat.
- Ask your child’s day care or babysitter to call if your child doesn’t show up when expected. Many children’s lives could have been saved with a call from a concerned child care provider.
- Keep your vehicles locked at all times. Even in the garage or driveway.
- Keep keys and garage door openers away from children.
- Make sure all child passengers have exited the vehicle after you park.
- Check your car and trunk immediately if a child is missing.
- Get involved if you see a child alone in a car. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Be careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times. This can include schedule changes, stress at work, periods of crisis or holidays.
- Use the drive-thru when possible. Such as restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.
- Pay for gas at the pump. With your debit or credit card.