Unfortunately, ever summer brings tragic and heartbreaking stories about children left alone in vehicles. You already know the dangers of leaving a child in a car during the summer; the inside temperatures can skyrocket in a matter of minutes, with dangerous – and sometimes deadly – consequences. While summer is winding to a close, it’s not a time to become complacent; there are certain safety measures you should be taking during the hot weather to keep your child happy and safe in the car. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Never, never leave a child in a closed car unattended. Even if you only anticipate being away from the car for a few minutes, something might delay you. Going into the gas station to pay for gas can easily take more than a few minutes if you get stuck in line. Even going into your house can take more time than anticipated; we’ve all had the experience of being sidetracked by a mess made by a pet or a ringing telephone. Take your child out of the car with you each time; the inconvenience is worth it!
- Be mindful of the times when your routine is disrupted. This is when many cases that end in tragedy occur: Sometimes the parent who forgets a child isn’t used to dropping the child off at daycare, for example. Take measures such as putting your purse in the back seat; when you reach back to get your purse, you’ll see your child and will be reminded. Another safety suggestion is to put the baby bag or a teddy bear in the passenger seat to act as a visual reminder.
- Guard against burns caused by blistering-hot carseat buckles. Feel them before attempting to buckle your baby in; if they’re too hot, then run the air conditioning in the car for a few minutes to help cool them off. Or use a blanket or carseat cover to cover the straps and buckles, keeping them out of direct sunlight.
- Don’t forget about sunscreen in the car! Particularly if you have the windows open, your child can get burned by the sun if it’s shining on him. Apply sunscreen or use a sunshade. Read the owner’s manual of your baby’s rear-facing carseat; depending on the brand, it might not be safe to leave the sunshade up while you are driving.
- Choose window shades wisely. These work well to block the sun from shining on your child (and his carseat), but some of them can obscure your vision and create a blind spot. Try it on the window and make sure you can see through it.
Summer car safety is largely a matter of common sense and taking precautions to prevent burns, but it also involves being aware of the danger of leaving your child unattended in a vehicle. If you ever see someone else’s child left unattended in a closed car on a hot day, don’t hesitate to call 911; you could be saving a life!