Things to know should your child be locked in a car.
How do parents or caregivers forget their child in the car? And do they truly forget or do they not want the hassle of taking their child out while they run a “quick” errand or two?
Now, I get as parents and caregivers that we are all prone to making stupid mistakes sometimes. For example, I once accidentally locked my keys in the car with my child still inside. It took me seconds to realize what I had done, and I immediately called AAA and waited by the car until they arrived shortly after—nervously distracting him as I anxiously waited for the truck.
Lately the news has been filled with stories of parents who “accidentally” left their child in the car. In some cases, a concerned and observant passerby, while in other more tragic cases saves the children; the child dies from the heat. These stories turn my stomach.
Well-intentioned people have suggested solutions such as:
Taking off your left shoe and putting it in the back seat in the hopes that when you get out of the car, you’ll realize that you have only one shoe on and—oh my goodness—you also have a child in the back seat!
The only issue I see with this is that if people are prone to forget their kids in the car, how likely are parents to remember to loop the device in the first place?
I might suggest that f you’re that prone to forgetting that you have a child in the car, you may not be ideally equipped to be caring for that child in the first place. According to Fire Captain/ Public Information Officer Steve Concialdi, in Orange County alone, there are on average two calls per day about a child being locked inside a vehicle. First of all, you should never leave your child in the car, however, if you happen to leave your child in the car while its running, roll down your window. Get in the habit of rolling down your car windows.
My heart always races when I hear stories about kids left in the car. A month ago while at school, I noticed that a vehicle with three small children in it. While the windows were down, there was no adult nearby, so I called the campus police to alert them to the situation and they arrived and handled it. I’m not sure what I would have done had the windows been up. I suppose my first instinct would be try to open the doors. If they were locked and the children appeared to be in distress, I would have broken the window in an attempt to assist them.
It’s a good thing that wasn’t the case, as had I done that, I could have made a bad situation even worse. According to Capt. Concialdi, you should never try to remove children from someone else’s car—even if you have the best intentions in doing so—as that could be considered kidnapping and other issues could arise. As for breaking the glass, he said that’s something you should never do, as the glass can fly everywhere, potentially harming the child or you. Instead, he advises that you call 911 and wait by the vehicle until they arrive, which should take only minutes. The fire department has the tools to open car doors relatively quickly and very safely.
Capt. Concialdi told me that in 25 years he has had to resort to breaking windows only a couple of times, and those were limited to new, higher-end cars with an advanced locking or anti theft systems. In terms of what they look for to determine the level of distress the child is experiencing, he said that they look for skin signs (skin signs never lie), labored breathing or lethargy.
It’s also important to remember that if you do accidentally lock your child in the car and are waiting for the fire department, police or roadside assistance, you should remain calm. Yes, I know this is easier said than done, but if the child sees you crying, they are likely to begin panicking and crying as well. It’s important that they see you calm.