I was absolutely heartbroken to read about yet another child dying after being left in a boiling hot car, for the second time in two days. This time the babies were in Israel, but it doesn’t matter. It could have happened here; it has happened here. It happens every year to parents just like you and me, parents who are exhausted and overwhelmed and simply forget that their baby is still in the backseat as they rush off to work.
As much as we may be tempted to believe that we would never forget our children, it’s just not true. Just a few weeks ago, we were headed home from our vacation in Maine, and we had been on the road for about 20 minutes before I looked back and realized that we had only buckled one half of our three year-old daughter’s car seat strap. I immediately pulled over, caught my breath, and was flooded with both horror at what we had done and gratitude that we had caught it before we got on the highway.
It could be any of us.
Fortunately, there is a simple way to make sure this never happens again. Unfortunately, it’s not easy, especially when we’re used to juggling so many different roles and responsibilities. I’m talking about mindfulness. Even if you have never meditated a moment in your life and think mindfulness is some new age mumbo-jumbo, please, take a moment whenever you get out of your car to take two or three deep breaths and check the backseat.
You might just be saving your child’s life.
In her recent article on this topic, Lisa Belkin shared these tips for how to BE SAFE:
Back seat: Put something in the back seat whenever you strap a child in, so you have to open the back door, or at least turn around to find that item, when you get out of the car. Your handbag or briefcase, cellphone or employee badge.
Every child should be correctly restrained in the back seat.
Stuffed animal: Keep a brightly colored one in the car seat when your child isn’t there. Then move it from the car seat to the front seat after you strap your child in, to remind you when your baby is in the back seat.
Ask your baby sitter or child-care provider to call you within 10 minutes if your child hasn’t arrived on time.
Focus on driving: Avoid cellphone calls and text-messaging while driving.
Every time you park your vehicle — every single time — open the back door to make sure no one has been left behind.