A recent news story is an early summer reminder for everyone. Below, Katie shares what every parent and caregiver needs to do ASAP.
Until it does.
Recently, a Massachusetts dad drove to a commuter station, parked his SUV and took the train to work – while his 1-year old was still in the back seat of his car.
But here’s what he did. He called 911 on himself.
Once he remembered (and thank God he did) he dialed 911 and directed responders to his car, where his daughter could be found, as he raced back to her.
Thankfully, she was fine. It was not a hot day and they were both very, very lucky.
This story gives me chills, for a number of reasons. The first, he was a typical parent, doing his morning routine, and with his quiet sleeping baby in the back seat, he went into autopilot, and missed a step. He did something he once thought he could never possibly do. The baby is usually gurgling. And while the car seat is facing backwards, it’s huge. How could you ever forget something you love so incredibly much? We’ve all thought this, right?
But secondly, I have to think that unfortunately, not everyone would call 911 on themselves. He did the exact right thing. He put his baby first, selflessly calling authorities, so they could get to his baby girl in time.
Put yourself in his shoes for a second. You just did something horrific that you never thought you could do – and now you have about a 30 minute train ride to get back to your baby. The “What if’s” racing through your mind. The “How could I’s” haunting every thought.
The idea is just sickening.
What’s even worse is the fact that an average of 38 children die in hot cars each year. And these aren’t all people who are “just popping into a store” and purposely leave a child in the car. The fact is, parents are human and sometimes our brains turn to “autopilot.” The baby falls asleep – and we get where we need to be – and forget.
I’m not excusing this behavior. I’m explaining it.
So what can we do? Especially as we get to summer, when forgotten kids are more at risk, how do we train ourselves, our partners and any caregivers NOT to forget? It sounds so stupid. I’m going to train my nanny/spouse/mom not to forget my kid? Yes!I urge you teach everyone in your kids’ lives to practice one or more of these tips.
Leave something essential in the backseat next to your child. Your purse/diaper bag/briefcase/ wallet or phone…anything that you will need and automatically grab, even when on autopilot.
Take it to another extreme: Take off your left shoe (yes, really) and leave that in the back next to the care seat. Once you get where you need to go, you will need your shoe to go inside.
Leave a Post-it Note on your dashboard. It can say “don’t forget the baby” or “Baby on Board” or your child’s name. But it should be used as a reminder.
Put something of your child’s in the front seat. It’s cuter than the Post-it.
Get in the habit of “look before you lock” by always looking at each car seat before you lock the car.
While this father was not charged (or isn’t currently being charged), there are often serious legal repercussions to making this kind of mistake. Not to mention the grief and guilt and life-ruining that happens along with the cases of a baby dying in a car. So have the “stupid” conversation. And follow these “stupid” tips. Because you won’t look so dumb when another forgotten kid in a car makes the news – and it’s bound to happen.