We cannot stop thinking about "Fatal Distraction," a recent article from The Washington Post, which shares the gut-wrenching stories of parents who accidentally forgot a child in the backseat of a car and returned hours later to find them dead of hyperthermia (heat stroke). Reading it, I felt sick to my stomach, and terrified that it could one day happen to me.
Before you say “I could never do that" -- the experts quoted make a compelling case that indeed it could. Think about it: How many times have you done something on autopilot -- driven to work, prepared lunches, turned off the stove -- and then had only a vague recollection of it afterward?
Thankfully, KidsandCars.org has some concrete tips to help prevent this kind of tragedy:
- Always put something you'll need for work – cell phone, handbag, employee badge, etc. -- on the floor of the back seat, near the child.
- Keep a large teddy bear in the child's car seat when it's not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the teddy bear up front in the passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the teddy bear is in the passenger seat, the child is in the back.
- Make arrangements with your child's day-care provider or babysitter that you will always call them if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled. Ask them to always phone you if your child does not show up when expected.