“Look Before You Lock” to Avoid Child Deaths in Missouri

An average of 38 children die every year in hot car deaths. Far too many children have been inadvertently left in hot vehicles or have gotten into a vehicle on their own. Vehicular heatstroke tragedies change the lives of parents, families, and communities forever.


We are active supporters of KidsAndCars.org, a non-profit group child safety organization. They report that on average, 38 children die every year in heat-related deaths after being left inside motor vehicles. A common question in most of the tragic deaths I have read about is “How could someone leave their child in the car and not know it?” Unfortunately, it happens with tragic consequences. According to KidsAndCars.org, it most often occurs when there is a change in routine. A common example of a parent/caregiver leaving their child in the car can happen when a different parent or caregiver is supposed to take the child to daycare and they forget. Often, children fall asleep during the drive and become quiet. The driver can become involved in thinking about the things they have to do at work or get involved in phone conversations, get out of the car, and go into work forgetting about the child strapped into their car seat. After a few hours, the parent/caregiver may realize they forgot their child or as in the Georgia incident, not notice until they get into the car to go home. By then, it is too late.

Comprehending the Incomprehensible

The idea of harming your child as a parent is one of the most horrific ideas you can even contemplate. As a parent/caregiver, you are innately protective and do everything in your power to protect and love your children. The idea that your child could be harmed or killed due to your action is really more than most parents can even wrap their minds around. Of the average 38 deaths that happen a year, it is safe to say that in each incident the parent responsible for leaving their child in the car is forever scarred and haunted. KidsAndCars.org is a child safety organization that promotes safety and advocates for safety legislation for automakers. KidsAndCars.org is one of the few organizations that focus on the hazards of car injuries involving children in non-highway/traffic types of conditions such as heat stroke, freezing, rollovers, backovers, and loss of limb and life due to automatic windows. Their website is full of practical helpful suggestions for even the BEST parents.

Children are injured every year in tragic events such as heat stroke by being left unattended in automobiles. It is rare that a caregiver purposely leaves their child in the car. As mentioned, it usually happens as an error of memory or being distracted. The idea of leaving one of my kids in the car to suffer and die is the material of my worst nightmare as it is to most parents. But it can happen to the best of parents. I blog about a lot of safety tips, but I actually save and print the KidsAndCars.org reminders.

Thinking this scenario could never possibly happen to you is one of the worst mistakes a parent can make. In most of the tragedies I have read about, the parents never dreamed they could be responsible for harming their own child. Sleeplessness, stress, and change of routine were all factors in parents inadvertently leaving their children in hot cars. Unfortunately, sleepiness, stress and disrupted routines are a daily part of parenting. As I have gotten involved with KidsAndCars.org and read exhaustive stories about these tragedies, it is rare that a parent purposely leaves their child in a dangerous situation. I would encourage you to read these stories before passing judgment. Granted, each case has to be investigated to the fullest.

Everyday, Practical Tips to Help the Best of Parents!

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
  • Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase, etc, on the floorboard in the backseat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. It’s called the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child’s daycare center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
  • Keys and openers should not be left within reach of children.
  • When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
  • Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes, and periods of crisis or holidays.
  • User drive-thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc).
  • User your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.

At The Cagle Law Firm, we represent seriously injured victims of accidents including car accidents and truck accidents, however, promoting the safety of everyone is a mission that we take seriously. Promoting child safety is of particular relevance, as many of us in the firm have small children. The reason that we discuss such child tragedies as above is to promote awareness and reminders to all parents and caregivers that this nightmare can happen to any of us. Nothing is quite as tragic as the injury or death of a child–it is unnatural to all of us.

If you have been injured in a car accident or truck accident, you may need legal representation. Call (314) 276-1681 for your free consultation.

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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