Watching Out for You - Hot Cars

July 2, 2009

As the heat rises, so do the hot-car related deaths.

The organization, estimates a child dies every 10 days in this country due to being unintentionally left in a vehicle.

Now, the organization is proposing new legislation for seat belt sensors that would allow the driver to know if someone is still in the backseat when they are locking the car. If the legislation is passed, the organization says these sensors would be much like the warnings we get when we've left the keys in the ignition, or our headlights on.

Many parents feel, 'This will never happen to me', and aren't concerned with this type of legislation.

But for parents Phillip and Gretchen Greer, they say although they are very careful, they can see why, with hectic lifestyles, a mistake like this can be made.

"I know how many times I've left my keys in the car or I've left a bag in the car and just got out and hit the door lock... so to say that I would never forget...I think when you get that confidence, that's when problems arise."

Gretchen says in order to make sure everyone is together, they work as a team.

"We walk out as a group. No one leaves until we are all ready. We get the boys into the car and then now, we have a newborn who is relying on us to get her in and out. We've got to be attentive at all times." recommends these steps to keeping your children safe.

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute
  • Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID, lunch or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat. Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind.  This will soon become a habit.  We call this the "Look before you lock campaign"
  • Keep a large teddy bear in the child's car seat when it's not occupied.  When the child is placed in the seat, put the teddy bear in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the teddy bear is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child's day care center or babysitter that you will always call them if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled. This is common courtesy and sets a good example that everyone who is involved in the care of your child is informed of their whereabouts on a daily basis.  Ask them to phone you if your child doesn't show up when expected.  Many children's lives could have been saved with a telephone call from a concerned child care provider.  Give child care providers all your telephone numbers, including that of an extra family member or friend, so they can always confirm the whereabouts of your child.
  • Use drive-thru services when available. (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.)
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved.  If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible.  Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
  • Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
  • Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.
  • Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.
  • When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
  • Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.
  • Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
  • Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
  • Teach children that "parked" vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle; but the driver might not be able to see them.
  • Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera and/or some type of back up detection device.
  • Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5-foot-1-inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone of approximately 8 feet wide by 50 feet long.
  • Be aware that steep inclines and large SUV's, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
  • Hold children's hand firmly when leaving the vehicle.
  • Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle.
  • Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway.
  • Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.