Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We Are All Human: Being Proactive

Are you a person who hears a story and thinks 
'that would never happen to me' or 'I would never do that'.

Well, you're wrong.  

Terrible things happen, even to people who never though it would happen to them.

Today i'm talking about leaving a child in the car.

I've heard the stories.  I thought the same thing, that i would NEVER do that.  But as time has gone on as a mother, i've realized that i have faults.  I get busy, i get distracted, i'm forgetful.  

If i can leave the back door wide open while running errands (true story), or forget that the stove is on, forget to pick someone up, forget i have company coming over....then i can forget my child in the car.

It happens when our mind is on other things.  When our scheduled is different.  When we're in a hurry.  When baby is sleeping in the back and we forget they are there.  It happens.

It could even be someone else who does.  Grandma has baby for the day, or daddy picked your child up from daycare when he normally doesn't.  

It happens to real people with real lives.

Here are stories i heard just today from people i *know*.

"I see so, so many people that pass harsh judgement on the parents/caregivers that do this. And you're right, nobody thinks they'll *ever* do it. You know what? I'd like to think I would never do it either. I can tell you though, I had my daughter on a shopping trip with me once and I got home, walked into the house without getting her. I had *completely* forgotten she was with me because the trip was just out of routine for me. Right after I got in I got this feeling that I was forgetting something, I stood there for a moment and thought about it, then it just hit me that it was her that I forgot. I felt HORRIBLE. Thankfully it was during the fall and she was only in the car after I got in the house for maybe 20 seconds. But it happened. That doesn't make me a bad parent, it makes me human."

" My husband has done that. our first born was about 6 months old and he took him to store to get ice cream. He was wandering up and down the ice cream isle, trying to decide what to get when it all of a sudden occurred to him that he was supposed to have a baby with him. He went FLYING back out to the car. Thankfully it was after dark and not hot. in fact, it may have been cold but he was dressed warmly and fine. my husband found a lady standing by our car playing peekaboo with him. fortunately, she didn't panic and call the cops or something. she just stood there to make sure he was ok. I think she was waiting to see if it seemed like a parent who just didn't want to take their kid in with them or a parent who simply made a mistake. Regardless, I don't think my hubby was a bad parent. I think that was probably his first time going anywhere alone with the baby."

"I know when our 4 year old was a baby my husband and I left her in the car for like 5 minutes because we both thought the other one got her. SCARY!!!! And I still feel guilty remembering her sitting there alone. Lucky for us, it was cool in the garage. But it happens."

" I took my son with me to my place of work once (he stayed home with Dad 99% of the time) and took about 4-5 steps away from the car on "autopilot" before I remembered I had him with was one of the scariest things ever."

"I hate to admit this.... I've done it. It makes me sick and my heart races every time I remember.
My son was not quite a year old when my daughter (11) and I needed to make a quick tri
p to the store.
I left diaper bag at home and only took my wallet, which I put in my daughters bag. We got to Walmart, got inside and as we were nearing the back of the store (I always start in the back and work forward for some reason) she asked to go a different direction. I told her fine, but hold her bag tightly because my wallet was in there.
As she walked away, I was thinking, "why does she have my wallet? Why is it not in the diaper bag? Why didn't I bring the diaper bag? Oh, because I left baby with dad. NO I DIDN'T!! OH MY GOSH!!!!"
I started screaming for my daughter to come back. She did as we both ran out of the store. Got to the van and he was just sitting there in his seat. It had only been about 5 minutes, but to me it felt like forever. I grabbed him and held him so tight he probably thought I'd never let go.
I was so shaken. It is a terrible feeling!!!! He's now just over three and I constantly look in his seat multiple times when getting out of the vehicle. Even when he's not with me.

It CAN happen to anybody!! I've heard parents say that it won't happen to them. That a responsible parent wouldn't let it happen. HELLO?!?! I AM responsible. I made a mistake. One I regret and get the sick feeling over and over again.
It's NOT ok to leave a child in a car, but it can easily happen. Just take precautions.

Real people. Just like you.  

"Unfortunately, even the most conscientious parents can overlook a sleeping baby in a car. “The biggest mistake people make is to think ‘It couldn’t happen to me,’” Fennell said. “Memory experts point out that if you’ve ever forgotten a pot left burning on the stove, you’ve seen how easy it is to have a dangerous memory lapse.” source

"On a day that is just 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature [inside a car] can increase by 30 to 40 degrees in an hour, and 70% of this increase occurs the first 30 minutes." source

A child's body temperature can raise 5 times faster than an adult.  Heatstroke can happen when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.  Heatstroke deaths have been recorded 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states.  source
Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states. - See more at:
Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states. - See more at:
Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states. - See more at:
Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states. - See more at:
Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states. - See more at:

So instead of saying it would never happen, be proactive.  Take precautions.  Be sure it never does happen to you. 

  • Put something in the back seat so you have to open the door when leaving the vehicle – cell phone, employee badge, handbag, etc.
  • Or place their diaper bag in the front seat with your purse so you'll see it (can be a danger if you do not take a diaper bag with you always though)
  • Have a stuffed animal.  Move it from the car seat to the front seat to remind you when you have a baby in the back seat.
  •  Make a habit of looking in the vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away
  • Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected
    • Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach
    • Keep your cell phone in the back with the child. You can set an alarm when you’re supposed to have been at the child care to remind you they are in the back seat.

     And as an onlooker, what would you do?  Many of us are slightly oblivious to the world around us.  Would you notice a baby left in a car?  What would you do if you heard a baby crying in a car?  Would you look to see if the baby is ok?  Would you assume they are with their caregiver? 
    From ABC's What Would You Do experiment:
    "After two days of filming we learned that while many people were simply too busy or distracted to notice a sleeping baby, many others simply didn't know what to do once they spotted our child. Many of those who did act said that they had seen news reports and knew about the dangers of leaving children in locked cars."

    Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. 

    This video is heart-wrenching but the message is clear.  Be proactive.  No not allow a child to be left in a car.

 And remember to ALWAYS leave your car locked to protect a child for becoming trapped in one.

Please, pass this on.  So many think this will never happen to them, but it can.  Lets stop it.


Bean said...

I would even go so far as to recommend leaving a shoe next to them in the back seat if it's a really unexpected change in routine or if you already know you're someone who is very absent minded. I just sobbed when I saw that video. Thank you for posting about what you do. It's SUCH important information.

Chels said...

I know you wrote this a while ago... but I loved this! I was getting so annoyed this summer at my FB friends being all high and mighty saying they would never let this happen. This is something I would totally do. I have ADD so I can be quite forgetful. I'm actually surprised this has not happened to me before. Although I have forgotten to buckle my toddlers in their seats before :(