Children, Families and Finances

Accessibility


Connect With Us!

Facebook


| Share

Never Leave Children Unattended in a Vehicle

“It will only take a minute” you think. “We just need bread and milk.”

Children in backseat of carYour toddler just fell asleep in his car seat and your 6-year-old is engaged in a game in the booster seat.

“It will only take a minute” you think. “We just need bread and milk.”

Have you ever actually timed just how long you take to cross the parking lot, choose those items, stand in line, pay and return to your vehicle? It’s likely more than one minute unless you possess super powers.

The information at Safekids.org reminds us that leaving a child in a vehicle unattended is not the right choice, not even for a minute.

Try this test. Place two outdoor thermometers near each other, one inside a closed vehicle and the other outside the vehicle. Record the original readings (which should be the same initially). Leave for 10 minutes and return to read both thermometers again.

Studies note that temperature can rise as much as 19 degrees in only 10 minutes. Not only hot summer weather but also mild-weather days will produce increased heat in a vehicle, even with the window open a ways.

Infants and young children still are developing their internal systems. They can suffer heatstroke easily because their core temperature rises three to five times faster than that of an adult. Serious conditions such as seizures, coma, brain damage and death can result from heatstroke.

Young children and even school-age kids might be frightened by other people in the parking lot or be coaxed to unlock the car door by a stranger with a convincing story. Some adventuresome children have managed their way out of car seats to “pretend drive” and accidentally set the vehicle in motion.

Parents have other options besides leaving kids in the car unattended and going without groceries, but we don’t always think so at the time.

If possible, ask someone else to pick up those essentials for you. Neighbors, friends and relatives have found ways to help each other in the current pandemic. Asking for help is OK! Order groceries to be picked up curbside or delivered if you can. Or consider alternative items or menus for your meal plan. This is your chance to create something new from the pantry.

Additionally, to keep kids safe, lock your vehicles every time to stop children from playing in them and becoming trapped accidentally. Place your phone, lunchbox, backpack, gym bag and/or handbag in the back seat (out of reach of your child) as a reminder to always check the back seat. Infants and toddlers die each year in hot cars because their parent forgot they were in the backseat.

Safekids suggests setting a phone alarm, asking caregivers to call if you don’t drop off the child at the usual time and putting a stuffed animal in the front seat that you transfer to the child’s car seat when you remove the child as a visual reminder to check the back seat for your precious passengers.

If you see a child in a vehicle without an adult, call 911. Law enforcement will walk you through what to do. Be that hero.

 

Kim Bushaw
Extension Family Science Specialist

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.