Children in Hot Cars - how and why it happens.
You've heard the stories on the news, read them in the paper and most likely you are shocked and saddened and possibly, even angry. I get it, it's beyond maddening that kids and pets are getting left in vehicles when we know the dangers and how quickly it can go from bad to worse. Vehicles heat up really quickly, even if it's not a blazing hot, sunny day. While I will be speaking specifically to child passengers in this post, I feel just as passionate about protecting our fur babies as well.
When I work with families, I always speak about children never being left unattended in vehicles and usually the parents are quick to say, "Oh no, NEVER!". I am confident that before I had a child of my own, I would likely have reacted the same way. Then, I became a parent and I soon realized that it's not bad/unloving/uncaring/negligent parents that forget their child in a vehicle, it's just plain old parents. Just people like you and me. It could easily be any one of us and until we start admitting that it could be us and setting up safeguards, it won't stop.
The inside of a vehicle can heat up very quickly! The temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes, even with the windows left open a crack. Children and babies can overheat faster than adults, so even just a minute or two can have devastating effects. It's never worth it, always take your kids out of the car when you get out. Always. Below is a copy of a fact sheet about heatstroke related to vehicles that was created by Kids in Cars, an American organization that is raising awareness about no traffic related injuries and risks related to vehicles.
Any change in our routine can result in us forgetting something, it can be something minor and easy to rectify, or it can be something catastrophic. It is not a failure of love, it is a failure of memory.
More on how our brain works and why this can happen to nurses, social workers, teachers, police officers and anyone else, here.
So, what do we do now, how can we stop this from happening to our friends, our neighbours, our kids? First, we admit that we are busy and then we set up new routines and habits that involve checking, double checking and even triple checking our back seats and the back seats of the cars around us. This is so important and something I stress over and over with the families I work with, ALWAYS look. You might be 100% certain that your child is not with you today, but taking 3 seconds to look won't cost you anything and could save you more than you know. Encourage anyone that might ever drive your child somewhere to always check their backseat too, it might feel like overkill at first, but eventually it becomes a new habit. Look before you lock is a campaign that was started by KidsinCars and they have created this great list of prevention and safety tips. Since I am not out to reinvent any wheels, I have posted it below. I think the most important thing we can do is start having the conversation and admitting that it can happen to any of us.
As always, please reach out with any questions or comments and if you would like to book an appointment to have your seats checked, it's a great time of year for car seating! Have a safe and happy summer and lots of safe travels.