Worried about leaving your baby in a hot vehicle? Hear Heather’s story and get her 9 keys to help prevent hot car deaths.
“Hey, how have you been?”
My stylist’s innocent greeting jolted me to stop. My mind quickly ran through what I’d been up to the past two months since I’d seen her… Last time I saw her I was pregnant… I had the baby… THE BABY’S IN THE CAR.
“Oh my word.” I said, starting to freak out.
“What?” She asked, and she could tell something was really wrong.
“I left the baby in the car!” I replied, mortified, and turned and ran out the door.
As I ran up the street, my thoughts spun between replaying how this had even happened, to questioning if my baby would be ok, to wondering whether someone would have already broken in the window and called the police.
How I Ended Up Leaving My New Baby In The Car
It was January and my husband had been deployed since October. Our baby #3 had been born in late November via c-section. My mom stayed with my throughout the delivery and recovery since Adam was overseas.
I was exhausted from deployment, not to mention recovery from surgery. I felt a bit like I was drinking from a firehose when parenting three on my own.
This trip to the salon was my first time getting out for a haircut and some down-time out of the house. I loaded up the little Miss and headed to my appointment.
The salon was in Little Italy, a section of San Diego’s downtown, so finding parking was like finding water in the Sahara desert. I circled the block a few times as the time for my appointment ticked closer.
After seeing exactly zero available spaces, I started to get frustrated. I figured I needed to try a parking lot, but the only one available was charging $15.
$15 for an hour, seriously?! I’d rather choke down the glucose test drink than pay that much, but as I was about to be late for my appointment, I decided to go for it.
The ONLY spot in the parking lot was between a flower bed and a glass truck with angled metal sides. I had to back my ginormous SUV into the spot, which made it so I couldn’t open my door. (something like the glass truck pic below)
With the baby sleeping soundly in the back, I had forgotten her in my endless trips around the block, my precarious (expensive) parking, and my hurry to get to my haircut.
I climbed across the passenger seat, out the side door, and hustled off to my appointment a block away.I climbed across the passenger seat, out the side door, and hustled off to my appointment a block away… with my newborn sleeping in the car. Here's what happened: #preventhotcardeaths #parklooklock Click To Tweet
9 Hacks To Prevent Hot Car Deaths And Avoid Leaving Your Infant Behind (Like I Did)
Today reports that, as of July 16th, “In 2019 there have been 21 child hot car deaths so far.”
It was hard to even get myself to write this post, because honestly it’s kind of embarrassing. What kind of parent would leave their newborn in the car?
But let me tell you, it’s easier than you think to make this mistake.
We are all at risk and we have to take steps to prevent tragedy. Here are 9 tips to help you remember your child EVERY time you leave your vehicle.
1- Look In The Backseat EVERY Time You Leave Your Vehicle
It’s one extra step that could save a life. Just check your back seat every time to be sure no little ones are back there.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls it “Park, Look, Lock.” We have to retrain ourselves with that new habit, but the effort will be worth it.It's one extra step that could save a life. Just check your back seat every time to be sure no little ones are back there. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls it "Park, Look, Lock." We have to retrain ourselves… Click To Tweet
2- Count Your Children Repeatedly To Avoid Leaving One In a Hot Car
With three children, it feels like a lot of little lives to keep track of. When I get out of the car, I now make it a point to think through where each child is.
For example: “#1 is with Dad, #2 is with me, #3 is with me.” Making a habit of this helps me double check myself every time. And honestly I’ve gotten lax on this so writing this is a good reminder for me.
3- Prevent Hot Car Deaths By Over-Communicating
The biggest risk was never when I had all three of my kids in my charge. It was once someone else was watching one or two of the kids while I had the others.
One frequent and tragic storyline I hear when a child is left in the car is that the parent didn’t realize the child was with them. With day-care drop offs, school runs, and busy lives, it’s easy to miscommunicate.
Make sure you know who is with you and that your other caregiver knows who is with them.
4- Use An App Or Reminder Device
Honestly I haven’t found anything great but there are a few concepts on the market. Most ideas I’ve seen were either in development, are no longer available, or have significant use issues.
Here’s a list of what seems to be the best car seat alarms available now. If you know of any other good technology available I’d love to hear about it! You can post in the comments or shoot me an email here.
Also, it looks like some car companies have made a pact to develop reminder technologies for new cars. While it seems to me that they should have done this years ago, I’m glad to see them moving that direction.
5- Put Something You Need In The Backseat
I’ve heard one trick to preventing hot car deaths is to take off a shoe and set it in the backseat.
I like the idea but it needs troubleshooting. What if it’s pouring down rain (like it does 9 months out of the year here in the Pacific Northwest)? And it’s a safety issue to drive without your shoes on. So hmmm.
To solve that problem, try putting something else you need immediately in the back, whether it be your phone, your backpack or purse, or anything you can think of.
6- Put A Stuffed Animal In The Passenger Seat
I just learned of this trick and I love it. I think I’ll need to use two stuffies because I have two who can’t get out of their carseats.
However, hot car deaths have happened even with children as old as 13. In fact, HealthyChildren.org reports that: “Heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths in children under 15.”
7- Prevent Hot Car Deaths By Reminding Each Other
As your partner, a care giver or a friend to remind you to check your backset. This is especially helpful for certain trips when you’re passing baby back and forth or you’re not used to having them on this particular errand.
It never hurts to get a reminder from someone you trust.
8- Ask Childcare Workers To Check In
If you utilize childcare outside your home, ask them to call you immediately anytime your child does not show up as scheduled.
This can prevent a loving, well-meaning parent from accidentally leaving the child in a car after first forgetting to drop them off at daycare or preschool.If you utilize childcare outside your home, ask them to call you immediately anytime your child does not show up as scheduled.This can prevent a loving, well-meaning parent from accidentally leaving the child in a car after first… Click To Tweet
9- Be Extra Diligent At The End Of The Workweek
Interestingly, Thursdays and Fridays saw the most deaths from 1998-2018. So as we parents are getting tired toward the weekend, it’s time to take extra precautions like the ones mentioned above.
What Happened When I Got Back To My Car
After I checked into my appointment, I sat in the lobby waiting for my stylist. My horrible blunder dawned on me when she showed up and asked how I’d been.
It was about 60 degrees, so thankfully it was a cooler Southern California day. As I raced up the street, I saw that no one was near my car or looking in the windows. That was a small relief, but I still wasn’t close enough to tell if my baby was awake and crying.
Upon reaching my car and opening up the door, I found my little princess sleeping away peacefully in a car that wasn’t overly warm.
Thank you Lord!
I breathed multiple prayers of thanks and took a lot of deep breaths to calm my pounding heart.
I couldn’t help thinking of what could have been as I secured her in the frame stroller and wheeled her back to my concerned stylist. I explained everything and she was very reassuring that it could happen to anyone.
I still felt horrible, but overall I was so grateful that everything turned out ok.
I’ve wanted to write this article for a long time because I really hope to help prevent anything from happening to your precious little ones. It’s hard to accept, but it really can happen to anyone.
PLEASE be careful and implement a plan to keep your children safe!
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