Many people dismiss the notion that they could ever forget a child in a hot car, but the reality is that it has happened to hundreds of people from all walks of life throughout the country.
Arizona ranks fourth in the country for the highest volume of fatalities, with 23 deaths between 1998 and 2010. Historically, these tragedies occur most frequently in July and August.
Last year, AAA Roadside Assistance received 307 calls between Memorial Day and Labor Day, in which a child was locked inside a vehicle. AAA urges motorists to call 911 if they see a child in a locked car.
AAA urges parents and caregivers to exercise extra caution when commuting with children by following these tips:
• Look before you leave. Always check the front and back seats of your vehicle before you get out. Also, consider putting a purse or other daily-use item in the backseat with your child to ensure you look back there. Additionally, establishing visual cues in the front seat, like a diaper bag or stuffed toy, can help remind you that precious cargo is in the back.
• Be aware of "breaking your routine." Ask your child care provider to call if your child does not show up to day care when they normally do. Also, if you are dropping off your child, and it's normally your spouse or partner's duty, have them call you to ensure the drop-off went accordingly.
• Never leave children unattended in a vehicle. Even if the car is running, many vehicles have automatic systems that can lock you out, keeping you from your child should a situation become dangerous.
• Warn your children about the dangers of playing in or around vehicles. Always lock your doors, and keep keys out of reach so children cannot get into the car. And also keep the rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from getting into the trunk.
• If you spot a child or pet inside a locked vehicle, call 911 immediately and follow the dispatcher's instructions.