Imagine…You’re making a “quick” trip to the store, and two hours later you finally get your child back into their car seat. They’re screaming, you’re screaming, it’s 90 degrees and you’re at your melting point. You start heading home; they fall asleep. Introducing your five-minute “ah”.
Back at home, things remain calm—that’s not right. The last place you had baby was in the car.
In 2018, 51 children suffered heatstrokes just like this all around the U.S. As parents, we’re exhausted, juggling a million things, and understanding how easy it is to forget doesn’t make you a bad parent. Good news: realizing it can happen to you is the #1 way of preventing it.
With Florida ranked as the warmest state year-round, caretakers need to put their best heat forward to ensure our little ones stay safe as Florida gets back into the swing of its extra-long summer. Here are seven tips to help you keep your cool:
1. Leave something in the backseat that you absolutely need to leave your vehicle
This could include anything from your purse/briefcase to your cell phone to your shoe (my personal favorite). Choose an item in your daily routine that you cannot live without.
2. Practice using the “Stuffed Animal Swap Method”
This one is popular. Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when they’re not in the car. When they are, put the stuffed animal up in the front seat with you. If you’re a visual person, a bright pink monkey may do just the trick.
3. Set up a touch base with your child’s caretaker for all drop-offs
It’s especially easy to get distracted when you take turns in your drop-off routine. Once your child is dropped off, have their caretaker shoot you a quick text. Set a daily alarm on your phone so you can make sure you received it.
4. Make it a habit to check your entire car before hitting the “lock” button
Just take a quick walk around. It takes ten seconds, max; you’ll be glad you did. And, enjoy a peaceful moment of silence while you do!
5. Pay attention to what has your attention—and make a shift
Waiting at a red light on your way to daycare? Instead of checking your work email, try making the trip a fun experience for both you and baby. Sing, talk, play I-spy—anything that will engage them in the car. Think of every ride as a mini parent-child road trip; you’re bound to take a child you can hear with you at the other end.
6. Don’t be afraid to use technology
There is truly an app for everything. Try two crowd favorites to stay in the know:
- The Backseat – created by an Arizona dad to keep forgetfulness away on your busiest days
- Waze – a popular download that recently introduced Child Reminders to get your alert on
Go download both right now. I’ll wait.
7. Always keep your car locked to make sure kiddos don’t use it for hide-and-seek
Kids play, and we want to encourage exploration—but make sure they understand the car is not a place to play. And lock it after you get out, every time, just in case. Bonus points: Keep those keys out of reach from five-year-olds who think they can operate the keyless remote better than you can.
The first step to ensuring this tragedy doesn't happen to you, is admitting it can. Come up with a habit that you can stick with to ensure your little ones make it out of the car when you do.