Every year children around the country are put in dangerous situations when they are left inside a vehicle. An average of 38 children die from heat related illnesses after being left inside a vehicle every year. This is usually due to adults forgetting their child, children finding their own way into a car or children being intentionally left in the car.
It may seem like forgetting a child in the car is impossible, but it happens more often than you would think. Getting distracted, switching up a routine or going into autopilot can happen to anyone. This is why it’s so crucial to develop good habits that will keep children safe.
Tips for making a safe car routine:
• When you put a child in your car, put something essential in the backseat. This will force you to check back there before getting out of the car. Choose items like an employee badge, your purse/briefcase, cellphone or even your left shoe.
• Make it a routine to open your back door every time you park. Do this even when you don’t have children in the car.
• Ask your babysitter or daycare to call you if your child has not arrived as scheduled.
• Set a unique alarm that goes off when you’re expected to arrive at your destination. Or set a specific reminder that tells you to drop off your child.
• Avoid distractions by never answering the phone while driving.
• Say where you are going out loud. Do this throughout the trip.
• Put a stuffed animal or some noticeable object in the car seat when you take your child out. When you put the child in the car, move the object to the front seat as a visual cue that you have your child with you.
• If there is a change in who is driving the child, always communicate when the child has arrived at the destination.
• Talk to your child throughout the trip.
• Even if you know where you are going, set an audible GPS to the daycare or babysitter’s house.
• Always lock the doors when you get out of the car and never have the keys accessible to children.
• Remind children that the car is not a play area.
• Ask neighbors to keep their cars locked.
- If a child is missing, check cars and trunks of your vehicle and those around.
- If you see a child in a car, call 911. Send someone to find the driver and assist the child. You may be covered by “Good Samaritan Laws” if you have to break the window of a car to help a child.
For more information on how and your neighbors can help keep children safe and out of hot cars, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/child-safety
Share out this information and safety tips with anyone and everyone, because anyone can be taking care of children or help a child in a dangerous situation. It’s on us to keep children safe.