Locked Out

Locked Out

We’ve become a judgmental society.  With the whole gorilla, zoo, toddler scenario people were calling for the heads of the parents.  When the child was drowned by an alligator at a Disney property, a lot of naysayers wanted to blame the mother and father of the child.  It’s always the people who don’t have children that are the first to point fingers, as well.

Recently, another child was found unresponsive in a parent’s car because he was left inside the vehicle on a hot day.  The first reaction to a story like this is always asking how something like that can happen.  We all want to know exactly what went wrong and why it happened.  We blame the parents and ask what they were thinking to have left their child behind.

The numbers related to child deaths as a result of being left in a hot car are astounding, and a little bit terrifying to think about.  Nearly 700 children have died as a result of being locked in a hot car in the past twenty years.  While this makes some of us want to rail against the parents, it’s important to note that only a small percentage of the children were left in the car because their parents thought it would okay, the others were simply forgotten.  The mere idea of forgetting your child in a car outrages people, but it should speak to how harried a parent can get and how distracted we’ve become as a society.

Picture this: you and your spouse go to the grocery store.  You buy your groceries for the week and when you get home, both of you start unloading the bags.  The baby is still sleeping because car rides tend to do that, so you leave him.  You carry all the bags inside, and one of you starts putting them away, while the other set off to accomplish another task, and voila!  You’ve forgotten that the baby is still in the car, sleeping.  It happens.  Being a parent is tough, especially if you’re sleep-deprived, distracted from being a working parent, or just have too much going on inside your mind.  Most people can’t remember what they had for breakfast or lunch during the course of the day, so forgetting is pretty easy to do, no matter how judgmental we’re feeling towards these parents.  They’ve lost their child as a result of their own mistake, so maybe we should cut some slack where its due, and work harder to figure out how to prevent these tragedies in the future.

This type of situation is not always the parents’ fault either.  Sometimes a child can accidentally lock the car, and by some bizarre twist of fate, mom laid the keys on the seat as she was preparing to get the kids out safely.  Is this situation the mom’s fault, or do we blame the child?  When you think about it, there’s no easy way out, and on a hot day, things can get dicey pretty quickly.  So how do we prevent all of these situations?

  • Keep the Keys on You – when you’re getting children out of car seats, and you need all of your hands, stuff the keys in your pocket, put them on the roof, or make sure they’re in your purse that’s slung over your shoulder. This way, if the doors get locked accidentally, you have ultimate control.
  • Keep Something Important in the Back with Your Child – In the instances of people forgetting that their children are in the car, it is recommended that parents keep something essential to their day in the backseat as well. This way, they’re forced to check the back seat at all times.  Right now, the judging people are asking how you can forget that your child is with you, but it’s very possible; it happens more often than you’d think.
  • Use the child safety features on your car – Most newer cars have a switch on the door that allows you to safely lock the car. This means that kids can’t use the power switches to lock the doors, only the people up front can control that.  It’s not foolproof, but it’s a pretty good safeguard and will ensure that the kids can’t lock you out.
  • Establish a System – Keep something in the car that you move to the front seat when your child is in the car, like a stuffed animal or a toy of some sort. This allows for a double check when you’re getting into and out of the car.  If the toy is up front, your child is back there.  When your child isn’t with you, the toy stays in the back.

It’s horrifying to learn of the deaths of children as a result of carelessness, but we need to stop pointing fingers.  Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs a person can have, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  Keep these tips and tricks in mind when you’re traveling with your child, and save yourself the heartache.

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