“In the last 20 years, over 700 children in America have died after being left in a car,” said Landry. “So I implore all citizens to take the steps necessary to help prevent fatalities like these in the future.”
To ensure children are not left in hot vehicles, Landry encourages the following tips:
- Leave something in the backseat that you cannot be without — such as a cellphone, a purse or a shoe. When you go to retrieve it at the end of the ride, you will notice your child.
- Sit your younger (or quieter) child behind the front passenger seat, where they are more likely to catch your eye.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat when it is empty. When you put your child in the seat, move the animal to the front passenger seat. The furry passenger will serve as a reminder your child is in the back.
- If someone else is dropping your child off at day care or school, insist they contact you once the child is delivered safely.
- Make it a habit to check the backseat each time you get out of the vehicle and before you lock the door, even if you are not transporting your child on that ride. Doing this every time will instill the habit.
- Never assume someone else (a spouse, an older child, etc.) has taken a young child out of the car seat and vehicle.
- Keep your vehicle locked and your keys secured out of child’s reach.
- Teach your child that vehicles are not play spaces. Keep rear fold-down seats upright to prevent crawling into the trunk from inside your vehicle.
- Get your child out of the vehicle first — and then worry about getting groceries or other items — when you get home, even if the child is sleeping or content.
- Be on alert for vehicles that might have an unattended child left inside. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, immediately call 911 and help make sure the child gets out as soon as possible.
“There is nothing more valuable to parents than their children’s safety,” Landry said. “By simply taking a few extra minutes and adding new habits to daily routines, we can help save children’s lives.”