Children rescued from hot car
Okay, so I guess the theme this year for summer will be “the dangers of leaving your kids alone
in a hot car.” I don’t know why this even has to be discussed, but there have been reports of
deaths, and today video shot of people rescuing children out of a car that was parked outside of
a beauty salon.
Originally, the story made it sound like the mother had left the kids in her car in order to get a
haircut, and the men were breaking the glass to rescue them. This seemed plausible given all of
the recent reports of kids being left in hot cars.
But, an updated version has clarified what happened. The mother had accidentally locked her
kids in the car, and asked the men to break the glass. I regret my misunderstanding of the
situation, and feel for her situation. Locking your kids in your car, under any situation, is scary. It
was quick thinking to get them out in the hot weather.
So, this new stories brings on two thoughts. First, there have to be steps that a parent can take
to try to avoid locking their kids in the car. This probably is only a problem with smaller kids who
are either too young to understand instructions, physically unable to reach or work the locks, or
do not have the maturity to unlock the door and get out of the car on their own. This “emergency
plan” might involve always checking to make sure that you have your keys with you, and carrying
an extra set in your purse or wallet. Second, you should make a list right now, while you’re calm,
of the things you would do or the people you might call if you are locked out. This might be 911, a
spouse, or a friend. It might also be good to have the phone number for a local car dealership so
that you can make arrangements to have a key made in case that becomes your only option.
Here is my revised thoughts about the other people who have been leaving their kids in their car,
a situation separate than the one originally used as an example.
Don’t Leave your kids in the car
Putting aside the lack of common sense, what I don’t understand is why these parents feel like
their children can’t just hang out with them while they run errands. Well, okay, I understand why
some things are easier to get done without your kids around, but what we do is find someone to
watch them. Or, bring an extra hand so that there is someone else to watch them.
The point is that with a little bit of advanced planning, it is possible to get things done without
endangering the lives of your kids. If you find that you don’t have anybody else to watch them,
then for God’s sake just accept that you’re stuck with them. Maybe the haircut needs to wait.
Maybe they need to come into the gas station with you. You’ll get frustrated and angry, but aside
from that they will be safer than they would be in a hot, locked car.
One morning not so long ago I saw as I pulled into a gas station that a little boy was leaning out
of the window of the front passenger side window. The boy smiled at me and waved as I got out
the car. I happened to be parked at the other side of the same gas pump, so I was able to see
into the backseat of the car. There were two boysthe one I mentioned, and a younger one, who
were basically crawling all over the interior, playing with the steering wheel and playing with the
In a way, I could sympathize with the parents, who ever they were. Pumping gas should be such
a fast thing, you really don’t want to be slowed down by your children. But, whatever the benefits
this situation helped to illustrate the risks. Here these boys were, messing around in the car with
the window open. The car could have been stolen, or they could have been kidnapped, or the
oldest of the two could have bumped the gear shift.
The father finally came out of the gas station store and was obvious very angry at the boys for
messing around. He strapped down the youngest, then walked around to the other side of the
car. When he tried to get in, he discovered that the door was locked. He pounded on the roof and
shouted to the oldest boy to let him in. Fortunately, the door was unlocked and the father was
allowed into the car.
Dude, as someone who used to travel with two small children of my own, I do feel for you. There
is just a moment in our lives as parents where we have to accept that we can’t do things the way
we used to when we weren’t parents, and we can’t always do things exactly the way that we
But, the good news is that this becomes easier when you look at these moments as chances to
be parents instead of a chance to get our “moment” by ourselves. Bringing your kids with you to
the store, the beauty salon, or into the gas station says that you want them to be a part of your
day. If they’re old enough, you might even include them in what you’re doing by asking them to
help you find an item on the grocery shelf or helping to pay the gas attendant for gas. If they
whine or beg for candy, then this is just another chance to teach them that “no means no.” A lot
of this could feel like distraction, and it might take you longer, but it is a chance to be a parent.
Because as a parent of kids who have gotten older, I can tell you that your kid won’t be tugging at
your pant legs for too long. Eventually, they will be old enough to let themselves out of the car, to
do the grocery shopping, and drive a car. Someday, they will be parents, too, who must decide
how they will balancing the need to create connections with their children against their need for
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