Click For All Health Articles >> Leaving A Child Unattended Or Forgetting A Child In The Car
Do Not Forget The Child In The Car
It's Dangerous To Leave Or Forget A Child Alone In The Car
Dangers Of Forgetting A Child In The Car
At first we were caught in two minds whether to title this article as 'Don't Forget Child In The Car' or 'Dont' Leave Child Unattended In The Car'. We finally decided to make the title relate to forgetting children in the car. However, both cases are equally dangerous as they could end up in serious health hazards, even death. Parents or elders doing something out of their daily routine, could forget important things and people, like the child in the car. On the other hand elders could intentionally leave children in the car assuming that, the stop at the mall or the post office would be a very short one. These actions raise serious risks to child car safety and toddlers have actually suffocated and died locked up in cars. The end does not come quickly and easily for the kid as, they gasp for breathe and fight for their life in medical centers.
How Can Parents Forget The Child In The Car
Most parents and elders would say that there is no way that they would forget their dear child in the car. The fact is that the people who forget children in the car are normal, they need not be very old and forgetful, they need not be overstressed and they need not be sick. People in today's busy world are used to following a fixed routine each day and anything done out of the routine is prone to be forgotten. For example, if your child is normally looked after at home by a babysitter each day while you drive to work, this becomes a fixed routine. Now, if there is an occassion where you need to one day (not routine) drive your child to a day care center, this is something out of your routine. You would safely tuck your kid in the safety seat behind you and drive to work, intending to drop the child on the way. It is very possible that you forget this small errand and drive straight to work, you get off at the office, forget all about the sleeping child in the car, lock the car and get into your office.
Another possibility is when you have one or two grown up (and naughty) kids and one small infant in the car. The family returns tired and possible drowsy from an outing, the parents are worn out from looking after the grown up kids, reach home and get out of the car. The small child sleeping quietly in the safety seat is forgetten! It is only when you see the baby's empty craddle in the bed room that you realize what happened, it ofcourse could be too late by then.
Doctors never fail to stress that, it is normal people that do these forgetfull things. If these actions like forgetting children and infants in cars was limited to very old or sick elders, it would be easy to get them treated or make them aware of how dangerous their actions could be. Some people put the blame on the invention of the child safety seat claiming that, they would never have forgotten the infant in the car if, the kid was on the front seat next to them! This is really not the cause as, the child safety seat protects the child from many other dangers and is surely needed.
The dangers: What really happens when children are forgotten in locked cars. The main problem is that the child starts to suffocate in the car, if the outside temperature is very hot and humid the child will lose conciousness even faster. Car experts have measured that the temperature inside the car can go up by around 15 degrees to 20 degrees in 10 to 20 minutes. This becomes unbearable and the child would soon be in a critical condition which could result in death. If the child forgotten in the car is a bit older and not an infant, he or she might try to bang around the car to call for help. Depending on where your car is parked this could go unnoticed and end in similar tragedy that an infant would face. Rescued children forgotten in cars have been known to suffer for several hours or even days before death relieves their suffering.
So would the dangers be less if a parent forgets a child in the car when the temperature outside is low or cold? This is not true, as the cold temperatures would cause equally dangerous conditions inside the car and with the car heating shut, the child would face serious health risks. The emphasis should be on how to ensure that, you do not forget your child in the car and not on how climatic conditions would affect the final scenario.
Why Do Parents Leave Children Alone In Cars
In the first few paragraphs of this article we have talked about how parents or elders can forget children or infants in cars. It is apparent that such incidents are not intentional though, some experts would often refer to these cases as negligence. We are now referring to cases where parents intentionally leave children unattended in cars. In such cases, the dangers that could arise due to this action can really not be referred to as an accident and should be treated as sheer negligence.
A mother could leave the child in the car and rush to complete a small errand at the local bank or post office. Parents could also leave children unattended in cars to make a quick trip to the grocery store or supermarket. The dangers that result due to these actions can infact occur in a few seconds and the damage caused could be irreversible. When children are left in cars in such cases, the air conditioner or the heater in the car (depending on the outside weather) would not be shut by the parent. It is never safe to leave an infant unattended in the car, so this should never be done intentionally or unintentionally. With kids that are a little grown up (not infants) the dangers are even more severe.
The dangers: The child might play around with the switches and controls of the car resulting in ugly accidents. There have been real life incidents where, children left alone in the car have turned off the air conditioner by mistake. The car then heats up and suffocates the child to death. If the child is a bit more grown up, playing with the car keys (if left inside) could put the car into motion and cause injury or death to people outside the car as well.
Some Useful Suggestions
(a) Treat cars as hazardous: Some child experts believe that parents should treat cars in the same way that they would treat swimming pools. The idea is to impress on parents and elders that, leaving children in cars intentionally or unintentionally is similar to leaving a child to play alone in or near a swimming pool. This does not seem like a bad idea given the level of danger that the child could be exposed to when left alone in a car.
(b) Leave the diaper bag in front: This is a good suggestion to avoid forgetting the child in the back seat (child safety seat) of the car. So each time you put your child in the car, keep the diaper bag next to you on the front seat. You are likely to notice the diaper bag when you get off and will then not forget the child in the car.
(c) Put your purse or bag on the back seat: This is an excellent idea for both mothers and fathers, put your purse or briefcase on the seat behind next to the baby safety seat. You will reach for the bag when you are getting off the car and surely notice the kid in the car. If you carry a newspaper each day to office, it is unlikely that you will forget to pick up the paper from the car when getting off. Picking the newspaper from the back seat next to the child in the car, would ensure that you do not leave the child in the car.
(d) The car as an extension of your home: It is a common practice for all of us to check all the rooms, the switches, the water taps and the doors before we leave home. This is a routine that we do over and over again and it gets built into our daily routine. Develop and use the same concept for your car and it will soon become a habit. When you get off your car, make sure that the windows are turned up, the CD player shut, look in the front and back seats to make sure that you have not forgotten anything. Do this regularly even when the baby is not in the car and you will be working towards a safer and happier tomorrow.
(e) Technical gadgets: Given the fact that children have actually died when forgotten in cars, devices to help parents and elders remember the child in the car are being developed. One such device works by sensing the latch on the safety belt of the child's safety seat. The device consists of two portions, one is built into the latch of the safety belt and the other portion is ideally kept along with the car keys by the parent. The device with the parent gets activated the moment the child puts on the safety belt. If the parent should walk away more than 20 feet from the car with the child's safety belt still locked, a small tune would play on the portion of the device that is kept with the parent. This is supposed to remind the parent of the child in the car. New devices will surely be developed on similar lines in the hope that, incidents of children being forgotten in cars becomes a thing of the past.
Every now and then real life cases of children forgotten in cars are highlighted by the media. Vivid description of how the innocent child gasped for breathe before succumbing to the negligence of elders are told by people on the scene. Law makers wonder if legal action can be taken against parents and elders involved in the incident. Social workers dealing with children run up and publish check lists of how to reduce or eliminate the chances of you forgetting your child in the car. Then things cool down, the judge nods his head and decides that it is a sad incident but not intentional. Life goes on and then one day another parent or elder person forgets a child in the car. Nothing can work better than you, to save your child from a painful and agonizing end, incidents like these can be avoided if you give it a thought.
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