"Ethan, who's one, was asleep in his car seat when I pulled up in front of the house. I let him sleep while I quickly ran inside to make a brief phone call. It was hot out, so I left the car running to keep the air conditioner on. My husband was standing in the doorway to watch Ethan, in case he woke up and got scared. My husband turned to me to say something, and when he looked back at the car, he saw someone inside -- a man was stealing it, with our baby inside! Our worst nightmare had taken place right in front of our own house, in our quiet neighborhood. Thankfully, our little boy was found nearby half an hour later, still asleep in the car. The police told us the carjacker probably got scared when he realized there was a child inside. Now, no matter how much of a nuisance it is, I take Ethan when I get out of the car, even if it's just for a second."
--Amy, Virginia Beach
How to stay safe:
Never leave your child alone in a car. Although rare, carjacking is just one risk. The fumes might make your child sick, he might play with the power controls and hurt himself by opening and closing the windows, or he might climb out of his seat and set the car in motion. Even if the engine isn't running, it's never a good idea to leave him in the car by himself -- in warm weather, the temperature inside can quickly rise to a dangerous level. "Even when the weather seems pleasant, a child can succumb to heatstroke in minutes," says David Jaffe, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis. At home, always lock the car and keep the keys out of your child's reach.
Jennifer Tzeses is an associate editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.