On my recent trip to Denver for the Lifesavers Conference, I not only attended some insightful sessions on driving safety but also received some great literature. I know that car safety for children is important to all parents, so I have to share with you some of the information on a couple of pamphlets I received from the KidsAndCars.org organization. Some of the statistics are startling, but even more important are the tips to help parents in keeping kids safe in and around cars.
First I want to share the story of Mika…
Mika was only 6-months-old when she died from heat stroke after being left in a vehicle. Mika’s father dropped off her sister, but Mika fell asleep in her rear-facing car seat while her dad was distracted by a phone call with news of a possible job after having been laid off weeks before. The road he normally took was blocked, so he had to take a detour. He stopped at the post office where he ran into a friend he’d been helping with a project at church. He then drove to the church, not realizing until later that day, he never dropped Mika off at day care. When Mika was found, it was too late.
The story about baby Mika is heartbreaking and tragic. As a parent, it really makes me take pause. But I don’t read this story and think that Mika’s Dad is a terrible person. He made a mistake… a horrible mistake. If you don’t think it can happen to you – think again.
Facts show that new parents suffer from exhaustion due to lack of sleep, hormone changes, stress, and changes in their normal routine. Any one of these changes can cause your memory to fail at a time you least expect it. Even the best of parents or caregivers can overlook a sleeping baby in a car; and the end result can be injury or death. What can you do?
Look Before You Lock
Share these important safety tips with your spouse, family, friends, co-workers, babysitters and child care providers.
Put something in the back seat of your vehicle that requires you to open the back door every time you park – cell phone, employee badge, handbag, etc.
Every child should be correctly restrained in the back seat.
Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. Place it on the front seat as a reminder when your baby is in the back seat.
Ask your babysitter or child care provider to call you if your child hasn’t arrived on time.
Avoid cell phone calls and texting while driving.
Make it a routine to open the back door of your car every time you park to check that no one has been left behind.
There are also dangers outside of your car.
Statistics show that every week in the U.S., at least 50 children are backed over in driveways and parking lots – at least 2 of these children die. Children are also injured or killed because they cannot be seen in front of larger and taller vehicles. Little ones who dart outside to say goodbye often go unseen by a driver when the vehicle is set into motion.
How to prevent this…
Walk all the way around and look behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
Know where your kids are before moving your vehicle. Make sure another adult is properly supervising children so they do not get into the path of a moving vehicle.
Consider installing devices such as rear sensor, cameras, special mirror or lenses. There are many options available. Check out www.KidsAndCars.org and click on the technology page for more information.
Teach children that parked vehicles might move. Let them know that even though they can see the vehicle, the driver might not see them.
Trim the landscaping around your driveway to ensure you can see children.
Hold a child’s hand when leaving a vehicle.
Teach your children to never play in, around, or behind any vehicle.
Set the emergency brake every time you park.
This important information and tips has been provided by KidsAndCars.org. I hope you’ll take a moment and visit their site for additional tips on keeping kids safe in and around cars.
Disclosure: Toyota provided me with travel and accommodations to attend the Lifesavers Conference on driving safety. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.