For Parents

We are working to raise awareness and to provide tools and resources for our parents in order to keep children safe from the risks of hot-car death.

Unknowingly leaving your child in the car.

It can happen to anyone, anywhere – and it has.

All of these deaths could have been prevented.

Unknowingly leaving a child in a car happens to the most loving, caring and protective of parents. It has happened to a teacher, dentist, social worker, police officer, nurse, clergyman, soldier, and even a rocket scientist. It can happen to anyone…even you.

Autopilot

If you’ve entered a room and can’t remember why, you’ve experienced autopilot.

False Memory Reconstruction

If you’ve sworn you “know” you left your phone on your desk but it’s not there, you’ve experienced false memory reconstruction.

How can a child be forgotten?

Autopilot and false memories.

Parents who have unknowingly left a child in a car describe these cognitive processing errors for not realizing the child was left behind. Sadly, loving and prioritizing a child does not prevent the “brain mistakes” that lead to unknowingly leaving a child in a hot car.

Auto-pilot due to a change in routine:

The majority of parents who unknowingly leave a child in a car report a routine change prior to or during the drive. When a parent plans to drop off the child at daycare, but experiences a routine change before or after leaving the home, the part of the brain in charge of routine behaviors can override the planning part of the brain, therefore leading the parent to follow through with his or her normal routine. For example, if a parent does not normally take the child to daycare, he or she may drive straight to work without making the daycare drop-off.

False memory reconstruction:

Some parents who have left their child in a car, firmly believed they had dropped the child off. One common theme in cases like this is that parents often visualized how the drop-off would go. They report details like imagining who they talked to at daycare, what the daycare teacher said to them, and how their child handled the drop-off. They talked about their kids during the day with co-workers and in some cases, even went to the school to pick up their child still not knowing he/she was still buckled into the carseat in the back.

What you can do

Recommendations for Parents

These tragedies are preventable. Here are a few recommendations that can prevent you from unknowingly leaving a child in a car.

Create an “action plan” for a break in your routine.

Recognizing even a short-notice routine break is critical. Have a plan for calling each other to confirm drop off or pickup.

Adopt the “Left-Shoe Reminder”

If you have your child with you, take off your left shoe before driving. You won’t get far from your vehicle without remembering why you’re missing that shoe.

Adopt the “Bag in the Back” Habit

Every time you drive, place your bag or a frequently used item (something you couldn’t continue your day without) in the backseat. For more on this, visit bagintheback.org

Set up the DropPop™ app on your phone.

DropPop™ will alert you if your child has not been dropped when and where you expected them to be. Please download DropPop™ here.

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