At one time, it was not unusual to see a mother or father leave children in the car while they ran into the store to pick up a few items. However, today’s society does not permit this kind of laid-back attitude when it comes to child safety. For one thing, today’s vehicles are equipped with several automated systems that could cause serious injury for a child. Further, leaving children alone in a car subjects them to possible danger from predators. Finally, the heat factor in a car can become dangerous for a baby or child quickly. No parent should ever leave a baby in the car alone for any length of time.
The Biggest Dangers To Children In Cars
Children can be exposed to several risk factors if they are left alone in a car for any length of time. In fact, statistics show that between 1998 and 2011, 525 children died from being left alone in cars. The biggest dangers to children who are left alone in cars include:
- Automated systems in vehicles. Many of today’s innovations that make our cars more convenient can also spell trouble for kids. For example, automatic windows can be closed on fingers or even necks. These windows can quickly hurt a child or even cause death, depending on the circumstances. Likewise, children may open car doors then close them on hands or feet, leading to serious injury. Even worse, the child may disengage a parking brake, causing the car to roll, or even start the car up if the keys are left in the ignition. Perhaps the biggest danger of all is that the child will become tired of waiting, open the door and walk away from the car. This could expose the child to predators or traffic accidents.
- Other people. Someone who is going to steal a car would probably not choose one with a child in it. However, there have been several documented cases of babies who were “kidnapped” because someone stole a car and did not realize the infant was in the car seat in the back. Further, sexual predators may cruise malls or shopping center parking lots looking for children who are left alone in cars, then attempt to lure them out of the vehicle. Even if your child is taught not to talk to strangers, this is a dangerous situation, as many of these predators understand how to overcome a child’s fear or reluctance to leave the vehicle. There is no greater horror imaginable than returning to your vehicle to find your child missing.
- Heat. The most likely cause of injury to children who are left alone in cars is heat. It has been well-documented that the temperature inside a car on a hot day can easily top 120 degrees, even if the windows are cracked open. Further, small children will succumb to heat-related issues much faster than adults due to their smaller size. In a very short time, children can suffer dehydration and even heat stroke due to the sizzling temperatures inside a car. While the problem is less likely in cooler weather, even an 80 degree day can spell big trouble for a small child left alone in a car for 10 or 15 minutes.
No matter what your reason for leaving a child in a car, it is important that you never leave an unattended minor in a place where he or she could be hurt. Take your children inside with you wherever you go or leave them at home with adult supervision.