Sunday, April 11, 2010

Car Safety for Children

A Carriage to the Ball, by William Bromley - England, 1835-1888

I have noticed that young parents are getting lax about car safety for children. One particular problem is that they leave their children in the car while they do other things. Many of our laws are indeed oppressive, but some of the child safety laws regarding vehicles were put there by parents of a previous generation because they recognized some of the problems of car travel with children.

Please do not leave your child in a car and walk away.  If you are going somewhere, load up all your bags or luggage and supplies first, leaving the children in the house til last. 

When it is time to put the children in the vehicle, take them all with you, and lock the house behind you. Do not take them one at a time to buckle them in the car seat and then leave to get another child.  You might be thinking you cannot watch the other children while you put the baby in the car seat, but you can let all the other children get into the car and wait to be buckled in, while you take care to see that the baby is securely buckled.

A parent should be in the car with children at all times. Once home again, unload the children and get them in the house, first. Get your groceries out after the children are safely in the house.

Do not leave your children in a car or van with or without the motor running, just to put something in a mail box or fetch something from a shop.  

In your own driveway, it is not safe to leave children unaccompanied by a parent, in an automobile.  A crying baby in a car, or any children alone in a car, attracts the worst types of people, intent on doing harm.  While you are setting bags of groceries in the house, anyone can creep by and snatch a child.

While getting ready to go somewhere, from anywhere--church, visiting someone, shopping, always load up the children at the same time that you are going to get in the car. Never leave one child in the car and then chat awhile with someone outside the vehicle.  It is so important to be with your children mentally, and not to be over confident about safety.  

Park your car near the shopping basket return area so you can remember where you parked, when at the grocery store. It will be easier to load up the groceries and the children without delay, if you are parked next to this area. This way, you can put the children in the car and then unload the basket, since you are right there next to them.  Do not put the children in the car and then take the empty basket a long ways away from your car to put it away.

Teach your children to obey you, and to stay by your side at all times in public and at home, as a matter of safety.

Do not leave children in cars for naps, unless you are in the car with them. Do not leave one child in a car while the other children in the family are somewhere else.
In most states , social workers will report hearing a baby crying in a car if there is no adult there. All they have to do is report the license number of the vehicle, and a mother can start a nightmare journey into the system trying to get her children back.

Homeschoolers should be especially mindful of all this, since they have the time to be dedicated to really raising their children and paying attention to detail. Sadly, many of them are careless and have had troubles because of it.  If you want to have respect and be left alone to raise your children, you have to act nobly.

  Sometimes homeschoolers think that they are treated in public as though they are welfare mothers. There are several ways to avoid this. Firstly, dress up to go shopping, and avoid wearing the typical jeans, tee shirts and flip-flops.  Dress your children up so that they respectable. It is connected to safety because dressing yourself and your children modestly does not attract the wrong kind of attention.  Do not tempt the bad people by being careless in dress or in car safety.

  Teach your children to obey your spoken word in public, beginning at home.  Put your children in the car at the same time, and get in immediately afterward. I've seen crying children left in cars while the mother stands outside having a smoke or a long cell phone chat with a friend.  This is not safe for children. If you are a mother, your children come first. You have to be alert and you have to concentrate on their safety at all times.  It will distinguish you from the careless motherhood often displayed in public by those women who are not alert.  It will keep your children safe.

Others may call you over-protective or extreme, but in years to come, you will be glad you have three or four living children, and none harmed or missing.

The previous century mothers were not without their own transportation tragedies.  A member of our family knew a great grandmother who had fallen out of a wagon drawn by a horse when she was but a small child,  and had her foot broken by the back wheel. She walked with a limp all of her life.

Never open the door of your car just to reach out and get something outside the car. Recently a woman just stepped outside her car and was run over by her own car. She was only going to stand there a second and get the mail from a box.

Besides all this, in most states, it is against the law to leave children in cars, and it makes other people extremely nervous when they walk past a car and a child is there alone, crying.  Have a heart, and be careful and safe with cars and children.

Do not leave the child in the car asleep, lest he wake suddenly and no parent is in sight. It is very traumatizing to the child, and an irresponsible behaviour on the part of the parent.

In addition to this article, please read this  and this.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these reminders. Yes, sometimes it may seem like more work to do things the right way, but it is a small price to pay to insure the safety of your children in these dangerous times.

I no longer have small children, but I think the advice to dress "respectably" in public is important for us all.


Laura Ashley said...

Over the winter I saw a toddler left alone in an SUV in a grocery store parking lot. I really wasn't sure what to do. He or she was climbing on the steering wheel and everything. I pointed it out to some co-workers (males) and they didn't want me to do anything. I decided to wait a few minutes to see if anyone returned- and they did. It was a Hispanic woman. It could be a cultural things. Families from different countries often feel more secure in leaving their children unattended. But you are absolutely right- it isn't a good idea!

The host of America's Most Wanted, John Walsh, had his child abducted from a Sears department store in 1979.

Lydia said...

Cars might not be considered so dangerous to leave children in, in other countries, but in America, our distances are greater and our cars are bigger. There is more to be cautious about. Even the distance between the car and the house or the store is different and there are more steps between your children and the shopping cart holders. You have to calculate every move when you are out with your children. Cars are not good holding places for children, and many times pets have died in the cold or heat, as careless owners have left them in the church parking lot while worshipping. Please do not leave your child in a car, even for a minute. Even in a perfect society where no one would harm a child, the car itself is a bad atmosphere for a child's breathing . Its not built the same way as a house.

Anonymous said...

That's good, Lydia. We kept our children in child safety car seats long after we were required to do so, until they became too large for the car seats and the seats became uncomfortable for them. Put something under their feet (a small box, or pillows) when they are in a car seat if they are no longer babies, so that their feet don't dangle uncomfortably.

Children can also be trained to buckle up in a seatbelt at a very young age. Check them to be sure they are buckled properly. Never permit them to be outside of a seatbelt (you, too!) or car seat when the car is moving. Train them in this safety measure from a very young age, so they will be used to it.

Anonymous said...

Good reminders, Mrs. Sherman. I know a lady who had lost her hearing as a result of falling out of a car as a child. I don't know if her deafness is now profound, but she was born with normal hearing, & functioned most of her life using Sign Language.

I became very aware, quite soon after my children were born, that shopping was never going to be the same again. It easily took twice as long because of the loading/unloading you mentioned in your post. I found that the order I did these things was very important...yes, even something seemingly as simple as putting the cart back in the cart corral!


Anonymous said...

In Australia, every year, there are horrible reports of infants and toddlers left in the vehicle during the heat of three quarters of the year. This (regardless of whether or not you leave the windows down a crack) can and does lead to death or dreadful brain injury due to dehydration and heat stress. There is no excuse to leave a child unaccompanied in a car, even for an instant while double-parked to grab something from the shops. Cars have been stolen in this situation, over here, in recent yers.

Anonymous said...

Great post. It's always good to have a "plan" or a system that one uses every time one is taking his/her children out and about.

One of our rules is that the smaller children get into the car before the older children. We also buckle everyone up before loading anything. (My husband had an incident where one toddler opened an automatic door, and ran out into the parking lot! Very scary).

Anonymous said...

I think you make a good point about homeschooling parents' appearances. There are already a few negative connotations attached to homeschoolers--we should all strive to not perpetuate the assumptions and judgments others make.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! We have a woman in our community who tragically left her baby in the car all day while she was at work. This is a tragedy on many levels!

We need to also remember that children under 4'9" should be in a booster seat in order to make the shoulder strap hit them in the correct place.

Anonymous said...

True, avoiding the death of a child, is worth any inconvenience you may encounter. Take this from a mother who knows.

We were very careful to dress nicely at all times. We did not want our children dressed like homeschoolers: messy hair, unwashed faces, ill-fitting, ragged pants (boys), stained shirts, smelly bodies. That sums up the general uniform of many homeschoolers. Although we are glad to be counted among this fine group of people, we did not want to project that image at all.

Emmarinda said...

Thank you for bringing up these important concerns. Another that pains me is when I see babies and children either overdressed or more typically, under-dressed for the weather at hand. Or seeing someone leave a baby in a stroller or seat in the bright sun. The worst was when my husband and I used to bowl on a Friday night league. After our league was done playing, the really loud music of the late night "rock and bowl" would start and you would see young people bringing newborn babies in at that time of night to a place full of cigarette smoke, strangers, and loud music. What does one do in a situation like that? I would just pray and pray. Those are the times you wish there would be a power outage so that everyone would go home! In fact, I guess that is my advice for almost everything - please go home and stay home, if you do not absolutely need to be out running the roads with your children, or just yourself, please stay home.

Anonymous said...

I'm the one whose children liked being in their child seats even after they were 4 years old -- the reason for that was that they could see out the window easier because they were up higher (not every 4 year old can still fit into their child seat, though). And it was great for safety, too.

Lydia said...

My point was that you must load up all your luggage and things first, and leave the children in the house, attended by one parent, or safely somewhere within the house. Then load up the children at last. Otherwise you are loading up things and running back and forth into the house while the children wait by themselves in the car. Very very unsafe.

Anonymous said...

This is so true; thank you, Lady Lydia. I always feel so anxious when I pass by a car with a crying child in it or children in it alone, with no parent in sight. I recently spent time with a couple of families. We went hiking and the children would not obey the parents' commands to step away from the water or off the slippery rocks right next to the water. Children should be trained and taught to instantly obey their parents' commands, in part for their safety.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia,
this was very good advice for me to hear, as I have been increasingly lax in leaving the babies in the car while unloading and loading- and even have left them napping upon return home. As silly as it is, I've felt more relaxed now we live in a small town, compared to when we lived in the city. As if evil only lives in the city and not in the small towns. And you're right about the air quality in cars- not good at all. Anyways, thank you for the very good reminders. We must be self controlled and alert... our enemy is lurking and looking for who he can devour. (1Peter 5:8) We must not forget that.

Cosmo Wifey said...

Thank you for posting this, I think about this all the time when I see children in a car alone. On the news lately I heard about a woman who left her car running while she ran into a store, only to find her car was stolen with her children inside. lucky for her the car was found 40 minutes later with her kids in it unharmed but think of how that could have been avoided!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! Awhile back, a lady in our area left several children she was babysitting for in the car for just a few minutes while she ran into a shop in a small town and the car started on fire and the children died. It was so sad and so horrible!

I personally am overly cautious not to leave my children out of my sight even for a few seconds, as I would never want my children to be kidnapped (I saw too many of those shows on tv when I was a kid about kids getting kidnapped and it scared me greatly!). I really appreciate your advice and teaching on being cautious with our children!!!

I think our generation is just not very cautious or considerate of different ages. I think it is almost something that needs to be taught (which is why articles like these are great!) There definitely seems to be a lack of consideration for young children- like not dressing properly, taking them to adult places with loud music, or listening to music really loudly in the car with little children present, taking kids out when they are sick, sending kids to school when they are sick, dragging kids around when they should be home napping or having a meal. I guess it seems like we have a selfish generation that often doesn't think about others including our own children. And I myself have been guilty...I remember doing some shopping when one of my little ones were sick and thinking...I don't think mom of the olden days would be dragging their sick children to the stores...and have really given that alot of thought since. I envision a mother caring for her child- who is in BED resting, being fed homemade chicken soup, being cared for at home!

Thanks for help encouraging mothers to be careful with their children and to be more thoughtful of them!!!

Anonymous said...

I saw a demonstration one time on tv as far as car safty to add to this. They said once you are all in the car immediately lock all doors. Next put the key in the ignition then get your seat belt on. Presumably the children all have theirs on and you have checked this for sure. Next start the car look around to make sure all is safe around you and begin driving. The reasoning behind this is that your safty is better if the doors are locked first, key in ignition assures you will not have to fumble for it in a panic if someone tries to bother you outside the vehicle. It assures women and their children are safer following these procedures in this order. Naturally first do all you have said about putting the children in safely and such. Thank you so much for such an in debth article to protect out little ones and ourselfs. Sarah

Moderate Mouse said...

In one advice column ("Dear Abby" I think it was)I read that it's generally illegal leave children in the car alone and that in some states, it's illegal to leave pets in a car by themselves in response to a letter by someone who said that they saw a baby or child in a car by itself, and wondered if they should've called the cops regarding that. (The answer was yes.)

Yeah, I've heard horror stories about babies/children left in a car by themselves and eventually dying.

Anonymous said...

People have to also be very careful in even backing out of the parking space espescially in small yards. Here in the UAE there have been many cases where a toddler has crawled behind the car and has been run over by their own parent while backing out. My husband was so horrified that he spent nearly a months salary in equipping his car with a censor that beeps like crazy if theres anything near the tyres while on reverse gear.


Julie said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia, for this sage advice. Another thing one should avoid when loading, unloading and especially while driving with children is talking on the cell phone. I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous and distracting that is! Also, you are really missing a great time to first listen and then talk to your children. You can learn alot about what's going on in their minds during a car ride. Your attention is on your child and your errand, as it should be.

Anonymous said...

Be sure to have your keys in your hand if going around to the other side of your car to help children out. One time I stuffed my keys into my purse sitting on the floor of the passenger side,went around to get my baby and toddler . My toddler had already been unbuckled and managed to push down the lock that locks all the doors to the car at once. This was in 90+ degree heat. I was panicking but ran to my neighbor's and called the police and they immediately came and got the car open.
Also, a car seat and a booster seat were instrumental in saving two of my children's lives when a drunk driver hit us from behind on the highway at 65mph. This created an 8 car pileup and the state policeman that opened our door said with great relief he was amazed we were all alive. This was when child seats were just beginning to be used.
Recommendations for the booster seats are now changing because it is now believed that children should be in them a lot longer than current law is saying (positive accident statistics show). Two children were the only survivors of a horrible accident recently when 11 people were killed. The children were in the booster type seats.(The accident conditions were so severe that the others did not survive even though following their own safety measures).
I have always insisted that if any child is outside when I am leaving they have to clearly be in my view. When they were little I made sure that someone was actually holding their hand so they could not just dart out to see me whether inside or outside the house. Remember to watch out for neighborhood children. My street does not have sidewalks and we often have untended children on their little bikes,mopeds or battery driven play cars. These are very low to the ground and it makes them hard to see especially when backing up.

Anonymous said...

Mrs Sherman,

Would you please address the issue of safety for older children? I worry about several young people in my life (not my children) who go to dance clubs and drink heavily. Is there a way these children can be assisted before something untoward happens? Especially the young girls.

Lydia said...

To avoid tragedy, spread the word to friends not to every leave their babies in the car even for a moment. A moment turns into minutes more and then before you know it there is disaster. It is not worth it.

And for older children, they should not be out dating anyway, with anyone in a car. Boys should not be given their licenses at such early ages. They should be dependent still on their father's car and should not be out at night, especially. Young people die more quickly in a car crash.

In hardship, a young man might drive a car but not with a lot of other young people. It is distracting and often turns into a party in the car.

A car is not an entertainment vehicle and neither is a bicycle. They should be used as serious transportation to get something they really need, not as cruisers.

It could perhaps be addressed in a future post.

Anonymous said...

When I learned to drive I wish it had been drilled into me to always, before getting into the car, walk to the end of the car and make sure the way is clear. I know someone who drove onto a weed eater because he didn't look first. That's nothing compared to the news of toddlers being run over because they were too short to be seen.

The Feminine Woman said...

Although I am not yet a mother, I find these reminders very helpful.

Thank You very much. Although I am a new reader, I will be back :)

Warmest regards,

Renee @The Feminine Woman.

Lydia said...

I agree that we need to be careful backing out a car. Even 40 years ago it was a problem in the US with many people making that tragic mistake.

Keep your children in the back yard to play. Never let them play in a drive way or near a vehicle. Do not allow them to rush up to a vehicle when someone drives in.

Children and cars just do not mix. Do not let children sit on the hood or climb on a car. Do not let a child anywhere near the wheels of a car.

The only time a child should be in contact with a car is when he is put in a seat and buckled in. He does not need to be playing around a car.

Anonymous said...

We need to be constantly reminded about these safety issues. I am reminded about a time when I pulled into a bank parking lot. A mother left her two toddlers in a vehicle with the windows opened and went into the bank. I was afraid for them and mentioned it to a security guard who was monitoring the parking area. He questioned me as to the reasons why I would report such information like I was causing trouble. I waited in my vehicle(to watch over her children) which was parked next to hers until she came out and drove away.

Lynne said...

And please please please lock your cars when they are not in use. It takes seconds for a curious for year old to slip out and open the car door. Many years ago one of my neighbors little girls shut her self in the car playing hide and seek. After a search of the neighborhood, her father found her in the backseat of the family car all sweaty and disoriented. A uear ago, another family lost their 5 and 6 year old. The two climbed into the trunk of a car and died from the heat. The mother is being charged with manslaughter and child neglect.

Blessed Homemaking said...

I completely agree with this. I have often been shocked when other mothers I know have stopped by to bring us something and have left their children in their vehicles. To me, it just doesn't make sense to leave them in there, and it's just too risky!