Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Car Safety

Before you read this post, I must warn that this is a sad topic. One of my worst fears is leaving my (future) baby in the car during the hot summer months--probably because it can happen to anyone, especially busy parents (and what parent isn't busy?) You see it on the news quite a bit, but each time it doesn't get any less unnerving to hear about.  Recently, the Washington Post had an article about a woman who unknowingly left her son in a hot car for seven hours.  To complicate things, the woman had left her son in a car before but was saved by a call from the daycare.  The prosecutor is charging her with child neglect AND felony murder, to make a case out of her to other parents.

I can only imagine how such a tragedy rips a family apart.  If I were to answer the article titled "A baby is dead. Was it a crime?", I would say absolutely. But when it comes time to offer judgement and punishment, I am lost.  In my mind, the sheer loss of your own child due to your own absent-minded neglect is punishment enough and so is the grief and ostracism your family will face.

Rather than prosecute a parent on felony murder charges in order to make an example out of him/her, perhaps we can strive to find other ways to prevent another tragedy from happening.

According to Kids and Cars, on average 38 children die each year due to heat-related deaths from being left in hot vehicles. Kids and Cars also has some good safety tips to help avoid leaving a infant or child unattended in a car:

  • Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. We call this the "Look Before You Lock" campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
In addition to these tips that basically modify our own behaviors, I've heard rumblings about car and car seat companies trying to develop alarms to alert you to a child left behind in a car.

A few items like the Halo Baby Seat Safety System and Baby Alert-Child Minder Smart Clip System popped up in my research but the Halo item doesn't appear to be on the market yet and I can't find many reliable reviews for the Baby Alert item.  Does anyone have resources or suggestions for other places to look for infant seat safety product such as these?

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