5 Simple reminders to prevent kids from being left in hot cars

Jun 4, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Image: Roy Hsu/Blend Images/Getty Images

The weather is heating up, and this unfortunately means we'll be reading about babies and toddlers dying in hot cars more frequently. What can you do to help you remember your baby is in your car before you lock up and walk away?

You are probably thinking that you'd never leave your child in a car and go to work. But parents who make that fatal error probably never thought they'd do it either. Recently a mom named Jamie Buckley spaced off the fact that her 18-month-old child was still strapped in her car seat when she went to her job. She unfortunately discovered too late that her little girl was beyond help when she found her still strapped in her car seat after a long day of work. This is not the first time this has happened, and it likely won't be the last.

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Deviation from a regular routine is one of the main reasons a parent will forget they have their precious cargo on board. In addition, stress and fatigue can lull a parent into a state of mind where this horrible tragedy can happen.

What can we do, then, to ensure we never leave our children in cars?

Leave an object in the back seat. When you strap your child into her seat, leave something beside her. Your left shoe is probably the most effective — you can't get out and walk without it, so you'll automatically get in the back seat to fetch it. You could also leave your phone, your purse, your briefcase or your packed lunch back there to help trigger your memory.

Add "check the back seat" to your daily routine. Even if you don't leave anything in the back seat on a daily basis, you should still strive to keep your mind back there for the duration of your trip, even repeating your reminder out loud. This is especially crucial if your routine will be different on any given day.

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Tape a note to your dash. Over time, this may become part of your usual visual landscape, so alternate colors on a weekly basis to make it stand out.

Set an alarm on your phone. Time it to go off when you typically arrive at work, so even after a mind-numbing commute, the alarm will cut through your sleep-deprived state if you're suffering from fatigue.

Consider a car seat alarm. Products are popping up that will help you remember your baby is still with you, like this one from ChildMinder (Amazon, $80).

Leaving a child in a hot car is a completely avoidable tragedy. If you take steps now to automatically check your back seat when you get to your destination, you can hopefully prevent your child from experiencing the horror of a hot car death.