With so many stories in the news this past summer about babies dying after being left in a hot car, I felt compelled to write this post. Please read it and share with everyone you know. It could literally save a life.
I was leaving my OB appointment when I saw it in the car parked beside mine. There in the backseat was a baby carrier. No one was in the car and the carrier was covered with a blanket. I walked around the outside of the car and tried one of the doors. They were locked. I got back into my car and sat there looking at the other car.
I called my husband.
He assured me that there probably wasn’t really a baby in there and that it was probably another patient at the OB’s office who was just planning ahead for their new arrival. It made sense. I started pulling out of the space.
Then I stopped.
The “what if” was gnawing at me. I knew that if I read in the newspaper the next day that a baby died because it was left in a car, I would never forgive myself. I knew what I needed to do.
I’m not the kind of person to break a car window — unless of course I actually saw a child in the car. I called 911 and was connected to our local police department. I explained what was going on and that I didn’t think there was a baby in the car but I couldn’t be sure. This dispatcher said that they would rather check and be sure rather than have a tragedy later.
I stayed with the car and in just a few minutes the police officer arrived. He tried the doors (yep, still locked) and then got a kit out of his patrol car and used it to open the car.
After opening the door, the officer pulled the cover off of the carseat — and there (thankfully!) was no baby!
Of course I was relieved, but also felt a little silly for calling the police for what turned out to be a false alarm. I apologized to the officer and he told me that he would rather come check 100 cars and it turn out that there is nothing rather than someone be afraid to call for fear of being wrong and a baby die.
I drove away that day confident that there was no baby in danger and knowing that I had done the right thing.
Even after just a few minutes, the temperature in a car can rise to over 125 degrees. Children under age 3 in the most danger of being left in the car, as 87% of all children who die of vehicular heat stroke are ages 3 and younger. To learn more about how to keep your children safe in the car, visit the website Kids and Cars. Also, check out these information sheets that are available from Kids and Cars.
The moral of my story, and the reason I decided to share it, is that you should never be afraid to call the police if you suspect a child may have been left in a car. The police would much rather it be a false alarm then to deal with a child’s death. If you EVER suspect a child has been left in a car PLEASE call authorities — you just may save a life!