Accidentally leaving your child in the car. That would absolutely never, ever happen to you. You love your child more than anything in the entire world and you would never just forget about them and go about your day, that’s ridiculous.
If you’ve had that reaction when reading a news story about a child accidentally left in a hot car, you’re not alone. We all think it won’t happen to us, until it does. Even the most loving, attentive and organised parents or carers can mistakenly leave their child in a car with fatal consequences.
All it takes is a quick memory lapse, like a distraction, a tired moment or a change of your routine.
Yes, it can happen to you. And yes, there are ways to reduce your risk. The Victorian Government’s Look Before You Lock campaign is all about creating safer routines to ensure we never mistakenly leave our kids in the car.
Here are five tips from them, as well as real parents:
1. Check the back seat every time you leave the car.
Like putting the car in ‘park’, opening and closing the door and pressing ‘lock’ on the remote, make checking the back seat a part of your usual exit routine.
You can even go one step further and open the back door every time you exit the car, whether you have your child with you or not. At first it’ll feel a little odd but eventually it’ll become second nature.
When you’re kicking off this new routine, you may need a reminder so stick a note on the dash.
2. Always travel with an important item on the back seat.
A lot of parents recommend putting your bag, phone or wallet on the back seat of the car. Brianna has two kids under four and says, “I always put my handbag on the floor at the back so I have to turn around before I get out of the car.”
Catherine, another mum of two, has got into the habit of giving her eight-month-old the house keys, “My bub hates being in the car but loves playing with keys so when I put him in his seat, I give him the keys. They make a noise and I can’t get into the house without them.”
If you’re giving your child your keys, be mindful that there’s no potential choking hazards or items with button batteries on the key rings. Safety first.