While in some parts of the country the warm season is winding down, here on the west coast it is still blazing hot. And with the heat comes a scary and serious problem: hyperthermia. We’ve all read the stories about parents accidentally leaving their children in the car (and sometimes not so accidentally, but that is a different story altogether) and the tragic consequences, but all to often we think it could never happen to us. I think part of that is ignorance and part of it is not wanting to imagine the possibility.
I don’t believe that accidental death due to hyperthermia is the result of someone being a bad parent, but rather the result of our lives being rushed, of lack of sleep and/or of ever changing routines. I do believe that these deaths are entirely preventable and need to be a part of every parent’s routine. While I’m sure there are many ways to do this, I thought I would share a few that I’ve heard have been successful.
The easiest way is to put your purse, briefcase or wallet in the backseat next to the car seat. By doing that, you absolutely have to get into the backseat and will (hopefully) notice that your child is there. It doesn’t take any extra time to do this and after you drop your kids off, you can move your things to the front seat. It’s easy and highly effective.
Another option is to put something in the front seat as a reminder. I’ve heard of some parents putting a stuffed animal in the front seat whenever their child is in the car seat (and then put the animal in the seat when the child’s gone) as a visual reminder that their child is there.
A third option is an alarm of some sort. You can set an alarm on your phone for the time you would drop off or arrive at work to remind you to check. You could have a plan with daycare to call if the child isn’t there by a certain time or have your spouse, significant other or a friend call you to make sure.
While this option isn’t quite as simple as the others, there is a wonderful car seat that takes this concern into account. The First Year’s True Fit with iAlert is a car seat with a sensor inside of it, which not only tells you the temperature in the car, but also shows the angle of the car seat, if the seat becomes unbuckled while the car is in motion and will call or text you if the car is turned off and the child is still in the car seat. It’s a great seat for a parent who’s extra concerned about this particular issue.
All these options are great and for the most part, quick and easy. And now Dorel, who makes Safety 1st, Maxi Cosi and Cosco products, to name a few, has come up with another way. Thirty years ago this month, they introduced the Baby on Board sign that we now see on cars all over the country. The yellow triangle serves to alert other drivers, parents, first aid workers, etc, that a child rides in that vehicle. Safety 1st says that it has helped “unite families everywhere on the journey of parenthood” and it has no doubt become a very recognizable image.
As times have changed, so that the focus of Safety 1st and starting in 2015, they will be introducing another sign aimed to reduce accidental deaths due to hyperthermia. Each Baby on Board sign will come with a “Where’s Baby? Look Before you Lock” sign, used as a reminder to parents to check their cars. It may not seem like a huge deal, but a small visual reminder like that, even on someone else’s vehicle, may be all it takes to trigger a parent’s memory and save a child’s life.
To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Safety 1st reached out to me and offered to giveaway 30 “Baby on Board” signs to readers here. The first 30 commenters will receive the signs. I will do one per vehicle- up to 2 per person, if desired, and the comments will stay open until all the signs are taken. Please make sure your email address is one I can reasonably reach you at. A big thank you to Safety 1st for continuing to put children’s safety ahead of all else. Hopefully this campaign, in addition to some of the steps above, will go a long way to making sure that we don’t lose more children to hyperthermia in cars.
Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. Safety 1st reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do a giveaway and I decided to do it. No money or products were exchanged!