Dangers of Leaving Children in Cars

Most parents and caregivers think that they would never make such a mistake -  sure, we often forget to pack at least one thing in our suitcase, but a child is super obvious, right?

Unfortunately, our brains sometimes betray us in the most unthinkable ways. Busy schedules, sleep deprivation, changes in routine and simple misunderstandings can distract us much more easily than you think.

The Hard Truths

Every year in Australia, over 5000 children are rescued after being left unattended in a car. Adults generally understand on an anecdotal level that the temperature of a car will increase (particularly on a hot Summer's day), but it may not be commonly known that the temperature can more than double in minutes. Even if the windows are down, or the car is parked in the shade.

Did you know that the body temperature of a child heats up three to five times faster than an adult's in the same circumstances? This alongside a risk of suffocation, entanglement in restraints and increased risk of abduction, makes this a very serious issue.

Children also get left in cars accidentally - statistically this is actually more common than the scenario of leaving them unattended to run a quick errand. It's so prevalent that it even has a name - fatal distraction or 'Forgotten Baby Syndrome' describes the simple act of our brains just forgetting about our children.

So Let's Make It A Conversation...

Early Learning Providers are best placed to be part of the wider set of nudges and reminders for caregivers, because miscommunications and distractions often occur around the routine of dropping off/picking up young children.

Caregivers can ask providers to alert them if their child is late for daycare, and centre's themselves can use signage or visual cues to remind all who enter to be aware of the dangers of leaving children unattended in their car. Check out our Never Leave Children in Car sign that can be attached to an outside gate.

Suggestions For Caregivers

Purposefully set up ways to check the backseat of your car for your child every time you get out of the car. For example, placing your mobile phone, purse or briefcase in the backseat near your child will prompt you to inspect the area.

Set alarms or calendar reminders on your phone to remind you drop your child off at daycare each morning. If you're a highly visual person, you could also keep a large stuffed animal in the car seat when your child is not with you. Then when your child is with you, move the stuffed animal to the front seat where it can act as a reminder. 

Other ways to protect your child:

  • Do not allow your child to play in a car.
  • Lock all doors and the boot after everyone is out of the car.
  • Keep all keys out of the reach of your child.
  • If a child goes missing, check the pool first if you have one. Then check the car, including the boot.

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