You're just dashing into a store to grab some milk, dropping a letter off at someone's house, returning a video rental, or grabbing the dry cleaning. There's no harm in leaving your child in the car for just a minute...right? Wrong! For various reasons, hundreds of kids each year are involved in potentially fatally accidents when left unattended in a vehicle.
Whether it's from gear-shifted crashes, sweltering temperatures, locking parents out of a car, trunk entrapments, or playing with windows and getting limbs (or necks even) caught, horrific accidents can and do happen in a blink of an eye. And, in some states, it can be considered a misdemeanor offense of leaving a child in the car alone; the offense can become a felony if there are resulting injuries.
It's easy to understand why parents feel it is okay to leave a child alone in a car for a very small amount of time to perform a quick errand. These parents who don't think twice about leaving a child alone for just a wee minute typically dote on their youngster and would never willingly place him/her in harm's way. Waking a sleeping child or getting a toddler out of a child seat in freezing cold or less-than-ideal weather is sometimes such a hassle, when the errand can be done single-handedly within a minute or two. But, while the actions can be explained, the consequences could never ever be undone if the unthinkable does occur. As a result, the sound parenting advice remains the same: don't ever leave a child in a car alone, even for a moment.
For more information about car safety, statistics, legislation and a first person's account of a tragic ending to a precious boy named Harrison, check out the national non-profit organization, Kids in Cars.