I hate to be preachy (for the most part...), but this is something I think deserves a moment of my (and your) time, given that it's now officially the first day of summer and it's getting increasingly HOT.
Last year in Austin, a man drove to work just like every other day, but this time something was different. He forgot that he was supposed to drop his young son, who was 18 months old, at daycare, seeing as how it was not normally a task that was his to do, and just drove straight to work, forgetting about the sleeping boy in the backseat. Eight hours later, the man returned to his car to find his son dead, the result of severe hyperthermia and heat stroke.
This story divided our city. If you're anything like me, your heart broke. You felt so much grief and sympathy for the family, recognizing that it was an accident. There were others, however, that felt that he should be prosecuted for child endangerment, and sadly, he was. While the man did not end up serving jail time, the child that his wife recently gave birth to is never allowed to be alone in a car with him, amongst other stipulations. I know that it is typical for the public to want answers and justice when things go so unmistakably wrong. But let me tell you, friends. This can happen to anyone. ANYONE.
It's so easy to say, "Not me. That would never happen to me." But we've all been there. You know, that place where you're sleep-deprived, or your partner is sick and you have to break routine (as was the case in my story), or you have a big presentation at work and are simply preoccupied. This really can and does happen to anyone.
I read something the other day that said an average of one child a week will die in a hot car this summer. Please, please, PLEASE, don't let that child be yours. Here are some tips to remind you to ALWAYS check for your child in the backseat, despite preoccupations and other outside factors:
-Leave a stuffed animal in your child's car seat on a daily basis. When you put your child into the car, toss the stuffed animal into the front seat next to you to help you remember that your child is back there.
-Always keep your handbag and/or diaper bag in the backseat with your child. That gives you one more reason to check the backseat, and even if by chance you forget it, you're not going to get too far into your day before realizing your wallet/PDA/etc is missing.
-There are also products on the market that serve to remind you to check the backseat by activating a chime when your child is in their car seat and your turn your car off. If you're very concerned, this can be a great reminder.
-Arrange to have your daycare or child care provider call you when your child is absent. It's always a good idea to ensure that they're cognizant of this fact as well as of when your child is under the weather, and that phone call could've saved the little Austin toddler's life.
Again, please do not dismiss these ideas based on the thought that this can't happen to you. It can, particularly if you experience a change in routine. Just 15 minutes in a hot car can be enough to cause heat stroke in an infant. Hopefully, with the tips above, you can honestly say, "Not my infant."