Although it is possible to prevent hot car deaths, kids are still dying in hot cars at an alarming rate. According to a Forbes article, 2018 was the deadliest year setting a new record of fifty-one children to lose their lives.

On average, 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heat stroke after being left in a vehicle or gaining access to an unlocked vehicle, the [National Safety Council] said, noting that deaths have occurred in every calendar month, including all winter months.”

Tanya Mohn of Forbes

I live in Texas, and the summers here can be pretty brutal. When I have my son with me, I crank the car first and let the air blow for a while before putting him in the car. Why? Because by the time we leave Wal-Mart, it is MUCH hotter in the car than it was when we got out. I could not imagine sitting in the car for thirty minutes to an hour while my mom is grocery shopping or browsing in her favorite store. Better yet, I could not imagine leaving my son in the car for ANY length of time in this heat without the air conditioner on full blast.

My Motivation

After seeing reports on the news, I posted a status on Facebook concerning children dying in hot cars. My purpose was to offer a helpful, preventative tip to my friends who have children. While most people appreciated the information, a couple of people felt the need to express their disdain toward parents who choose to use tricks and tools in order to prevent such a disaster from happening to their child. The things they said were a little insulting to me because the tip that I shared is something that my husband and I actually use. But like I told them in my comments, WE HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE TO ANYBODY!

Listen, I live by the “better safe than sorry” rule. While I do not think I would ever forget that my son is in the backseat, the fact that it keeps happening to well intentioned parents lets me know that it is a possibility. So with that being said, this blog is not for the parents who claim to be infallible super humans. This is for those of us who like to take preventative measures in order to ensure our child’s safety. Here are a few tips that I feel are the most effective in making sure that your child stay safe when riding in the car.

Tip #1: Waze Child Reminder

This is the tip that I shared on Facebook. If you’re like me and use your GPS religiously (even when I know where I’m going), this is a great tool to use to prevent hot car deaths. Waze is a GPS navigation software app that works on smartphones and tablets that have GPS support. Here’s how to use the child reminder:

  1. Tap the magnifying glass in the bottom, left corner
  2. Tap the gear in the top left corner
  3. Scroll down to the notifications section and tap “reminders”
  4. Tap “child reminder” and turn the notification on

The cool part about it is that you can set a customized message. So my Waze says, “Grab your Honey Bun, Baby Third!” every time I arrive to my destination.

Tip #2: Leave A Shoe Behind You

Have you ever walked out of your house with only one shoe on? I seriously doubt it. If by chance you have, how far did you make it before you turned around and went back for the other shoe? I’m sure you did not make it out of the driveway. Leaving one shoe in the backseat of your car is a trick that will certainly ensure that you remember that peacefully sleeping baby.

Some people suggest leaving your purse or your cell phone back there, but those are things that I accidentally leave in my car ALL of the time. There’s no guarantee that I am going to reach back for either of those items before getting out of my car. On the other hand, there’s no way I would walk from my car to my office with only one shoe on. So if you feel that this is something that would be helpful, leave a shoe behind you!

Tip #3: Communicate, Communicate, COMMUNITCATE!

Communication is an area that today’s society is slowly becoming more weak in. The simple art of talking to each other can help prevent hot car deaths in various ways.

  1. Make sure you are communicating with your child-care provider at all times. Create a system to where you call and inform them if and when you will not be dropping your child off for the day, and have the caregiver give you a call if your child does not arrive as expected.
  2. When there’s a change in the normal routine, make sure everyone is talking to each other. If Dad has to drop the baby off at daycare when Mom is usually the person to do it, Mom needs to follow-up with Dad. Your child’s life could be saved by a simple text that says, “Hey! How did the drop-off go?”
  3. Talk to your children about safety and let them know that a car is not a safe place to play. Teach them not to play in the trunk, no matter how good of a hiding spot it may be for a game of hide-and-seek.

Tip #4: Lock Your Car

Many hot car deaths take place after a child has gained access to an unlocked vehicle. To avoid this, keep your car doors locked and put the keys in a place that is out of your child’s reach.

Tip #5: See Something, Say Something

This goes without saying, but if you ever see an unattended child inside of a vehicle, call 911 immediately. It is everyone’s business to keep ALL children safe, not just the ones who are a part of your household. As we like to say here at MommiNation, it takes a village to raise a child, and it take a nation to support a mom.

A Word From A Friend

A friend of mine shared her personal experience on my Facebook post.

“Yes! Especially when you’re exhausted! It has happened to me when he was a couple months old, sleeping in the car seat, later in the evening, and I was on a quick run to grab 2 items from the grocery store. It was about 5 minutes and I went “Omg!!!!” And ran back to the car. It was scary and embarrassing, but it happened to me.

Also, my mom was with me and she forgot too! We just messed up. Too focused on running the errand. Glad it is behind me.”

This is a woman who absolutely loves her son and would lay down her very life for him. No one can convince me that she does not deserve to have children because of this mistake. She is a very capable mother who was running on fumes and blanked out. From the outside looking in, it is so easy for people to pass judgment on her and other parents who have left their children in the car. However, that is counterproductive and it does absolutely nothing to save these innocent lives.

Let’s Help Each Other

The bottom of the line is this: children are dying in hot cars whether we understand how or not. Instead of condemning the parents of these little angels, let’s do our part to try and help prevent hot car deaths from happening in the future. For more helpful information and resources, check out the following links:

Prevent Child Deaths In Hot Cars

Free Online Course: Children In Hot Cars

How Long Does It Take a Parked Car to Reach Deadly Hot Temperatures?

Child Heatstroke Communication Aid

In the meantime, stay cool and keep those kiddos safe!

Love and Light,

Mommi Joanna