Over the next several weeks, the Revved Up Mom will post a series of Child Safety Tips blogs. We'd love to hear your feedback!
We all know that it's easier sometimes to run a quick errand without the children. Most of us are guilty of leaving the children unattended in the vehicle while we go into a store or business for "just a minute." The first rule of thumb when choosing to do this is don't ever do it. Isn't a couple extra minutes on your errand an easier pill to swallow than watching a carjacker drive away with your child?
That said, I know that many of you will still do it, so I'm going to suggest some ways to make it safer, even though it's not safe.
You should absolutely, unequivocally, never, ever leave a child in a car seat unattended in the vehicle. These little ones are virtual prisoners and if anything were to happen, they have no way to escape. Always take your babies and toddlers with you no matter what. If you choose to compromise your older children's safety and leave them in the car alone, always lock the doors, put the windows up and take the keys with you. A locked vehicle is not an easy target for a carjacker, they prefer the ones that are unlocked and running. A side note, you can't leave a child in a locked car with the windows up if it's warm outside…the car will quickly become an oven.
You should inform your children that the criminal is most often after the car, not them, and that it's not their job to protect the car. Older children who know how to exit the vehicle and know how to take off a seatbelt can learn two basic safety moves that will help them in the event that you choose to put them at risk and the vehicle is approached by a carjacker. The first thing you should teach them is to honk the horn loud and long as soon as they see anyone coming toward the vehicle. This will draw attention and hopefully scare the carjacker away. The second (and better) option is to exit the vehicle on the opposite side of the carjacker and run away as fast as they can. Of course you must make sure the child locks are disengaged so your child can exit the vehicle.
Another tip you should remember about your children: If you don't remind them of these safety rules EACH AND EVERY TIME you leave them in the car alone, they will forget. So as you exit the car, you must say "don't forget, if someone comes toward the car, honk the horn loud and long or jump out of the car on the other side." The one time you forget to tell them this is the one time that the car will be approached, so you must remind them repeatedly.
Finally, there are a lot of children who get kidnapped or suffer heat trauma or death because they are left alone in a car. If you are out and you see a small child alone in a car, call the police immediately. Do not take a chance with that child's safety! Isn't it better to take action than to see a horror story on the news?
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