Let’s Talk…Look Before You Lock
It has been hot, hot, hot here in the Midwest as well as all over the United States. Did you know that 33 children in our nation died in 2011 due to being left in a car (NHTSA, 2012) and the number is already at 15 deaths for 2012 (ACF, 2012)? Here is a deadly incident that happened less than two weeks ago in Dallas when an early childhood program took children on an outing to the movies. Breaks my heart (and I’m sure yours too!) as we realize each of these deaths was preventable. For this reason, a campaign has begun called Look Before You Lock sponsored by the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Safe Kids.
Here are the campaign’s recommendations for parents and caregivers:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away;
- Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected;
- Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver’s view to indicate a child is in the car seat; and,
- Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.
**I would add to this list for early childhood professionals to utilize an attendance sheet checked by two caregivers to insure everyone arrives at the destination and back home safely.**
Does your program have a procedure for checking vans or cars after field trips or other outings? I’m guessing that if we interviewed parents and caregivers where a child has been left unattended in a vehicle, each would respond, “I never dreamed it could happen to me.” Having a policy that is carried out each and every time can help reduce the risk of such a nightmare happening in your program.
Be sure you are providing to parents the valuable information on the Look Before You Lock campaign. Hope you will share with other early childhood professionals your procedures for never leaving a child unattended in a vehicle by commenting here – http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/look-before-you-lock/