You’re just dashing into a store to grab some milk, returning a DVD rental, or grabbing the dry cleaning. Many parents think there’s no harm in leaving your child in the car for just a minute, but hundreds of kids each year are involved in potentially fatally accidents when left unattended in a vehicle.
Whether it’s from gear-shifted crashes, sweltering temperature, locking parents out of a car, or getting limbs caught in windows, accidents can and do happen. In Pennsylvania (and 14 other states), it is a summary offense to leave any child under six years old alone in a car – for any period of time. The offense is punishable by fines and can lead to more serious charges if there are resulting injuries.
It’s easy to understand why parents feel it’s okay to leave a child alone in a car while they perform a quick errand. Waking a sleeping child or getting a toddler out of a child seat in freezing cold is sometimes such an inconvenience, when the errand can be done in a minute or two. But often, the errand takes longer than a parent expects or the parent gets distracted. Always opt for safety – take your child out of the car or bring along another person responsible for watching the child in the car. Leaving a Child Alone in a Car. (Summer 2012). The Alliance, Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance
This summer is an important time to consider the dangers of leaving a child unattended in a car at any time and especially in the heat. So far in 2013 there have been at least twenty-four deaths of children unattended in vehicles; sixteen which has been confirmed as heatstroke and eight which, based upon the known circumstances, are most likely heatstroke (2013 list). This study shows that these incidents can occur on days with relatively mild (i.e., ~ 70 degrees F) temperatures and that vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures very rapidly.
- NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE. NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE !
- IF YOU SEE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A HOT VEHICLE CALL 9-1-1.
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don’t overlook sleeping babies.
- Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. IF A CHILD IS MISSING, ALWAYS CHECK THE POOL FIRST, AND THEN THE CAR, INCLUDING THE TRUNK. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver.
- Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
- Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car.
- Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.
Source: Jan Null, CCM, Department of Geoscience, San Francisco State University, http://ggweather.com/heat/ “.