Avoid car seat tragedy with visible reminders and a KISS

As a new parent, you’ve taken parenting classes, read countless baby how-to books, child-proofed the house with outlet covers and baby gates, you locked up your medicines and installed cabinet locks to keep your little one safe. The last thing on your mind was accidentally leaving your child in the car on a hot day. But it can happen, and the consequences can be devastating.

According to Libby Anvender, child passenger safety instructor at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, “A hot car can become deadly within minutes. Car temperatures can skyrocket in a short time and little bodies can’t handle the rising temperatures that can quickly lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.”

Heatstroke symptoms include:

  • Confusion                          
  • Dry skin
  • Fast Pulse
  • Hot appearance
  • Irritability
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Red skin
  • Restlessness

Sophie’s KISS

It can happen to anyone. A hectic morning routine, running late for work, a different parent dropping off at daycare – any change in the normal schedule can lead to the tragedy of a little one being left behind in the car seat.  This is what happened one hot summer day to two loving parents of a little girl named Sophie. In her memory, the parents worked with St. Louis Children’s Hospital to develop Sophie’s KISS (Keeping Infants Safe and Secure). The outreach program is aimed at educating parents about the risks of hyperthermia (overheating) and providing simple tips and tools to prevent similar accidents.

Anvender explains, “Sophie’s Kiss is a keychain. When there is no child in the car, the keychain stays in the car seat, but when the child is put in the car seat, the parent puts the keychain on his or her wrist. It’s a reminder to swap the keychain for the baby when they all get out of the car.”

TIPS TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE and secure as a passenger in the back seat of your car: 

  • Never intentionally leave a child alone in a car – not even for a minute. 
  • Teach your child never to play or hide in or around cars. 
  • Make your child as visible to you as possible in the car.  Place rear-facing car seats in the middle of the back seat if possible. 
  • Put your child’s things, such as a diaper bag or small toy, in the front seat as a constant reminder you have a passenger in the back seat! 
  • Use a memory device, such as a stuffed bear or hang tag.  Move that item into and out of the car seat as a reminder. 
  • Place your purse, briefcase, cell phone, or other personal items in the back seat near your child to provide one more reason to check the back seat. 
  • Develop a standard way to communicate about who is in the car.  After months of a routine, even a small change can have devastating consequences. 
  • Check the back seat every time you exit the car.  Make it a routine to make sure no one is left behind.

Call 314-454-KIDS (5437) and press 3 to request your free Sophie’s KISS reminder keychain. Individual requests only, no requests for groups please.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Safety Stop program will inspect your car seat for correct fit and installation. An appointment is required for all Safety Stop services. Call(314-454-KIDS (5437) or 800-678-KIDS (5437).