No, the title of today’s’ post has nothing to do with education. It has to do with children behind left behind in vehicles and dying of heat exposure.
Most of us respond with shock every time we hear of another child forgotten in a vehicle. “How can anyone forget their child like that?” we ask. However much we’d like to believe that only a bad parent would forget a child in a vehicle, the truth of the matter is that both fathers and mothers are equally likely to do it; wealthy and poor makes no difference either; neither does education or mental awareness or intelligence. In fact, if you think “It could never happen to me! I could never do something like that!” you’re more likely to do it because you aren’t going to take the precautions necessary to make sure it never does happen.
As temperatures rise, even a few minutes alone in a car can result in heat stress, dehydration and death for infants and small children. I won’t go over all the numbers about how hot it can get and what it does to a small child; I’ve covered that before on this blog. What I am going to do is to give you a few tips to try to help make sure that you never have to live through the nightmare of realizing you’ve killed your own child because somehow, even though it could never happen to you, it somehow did and you forgot your child in the car.
1. NEVER, EVER, leave your child alone in the car, even for a couple of minutes while you “pop” in somewhere. Don’t trust your memory. You could easily bump into someone you know and start talking, get distracted, fall, or have an accident. Even if you’re only popping into the post office to mail a package, take the child with you, always! Additionally everyone is now being told to call 911 if they see a child left alone in a vehicle. You could end up in a legal battle to keep your child and judges and juries are getting tougher all the time on this issue. It gets tried as “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” or “child neglect”. You could stand a good chance of having the state put your child in a foster home.
2. Put your purse next to the car seat instead of in the front passenger seat. You’ll look for your purse and remember the child in the back seat.
3. Keep a large doll or teddy bear in the car seat when the child isn’t in the seat and move the doll or teddy bear to the front passenger seat whenever the child is in the car seat. Seeing the doll or teddy bear in the passenger seat as you get to your destination will remind you the child is there.
4. Hang a tag with your child’s name on it over the rear-view mirror every time you put the child in the car seat. Make sure it’s big enough and visible enough to be hard to ignore or get used to. Only hang it there when the child is in the vehicle.
5. Make arrangements with your daycare worker or care-takers to ALWAYS call you if and when you don’t drop the child off at the usual time.
Most of these tips are simple and easy to implement but they can make the difference between a life filled with happy memories and a life filled with grief and regret.