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Leaving kids in car unattended for just a minute...how bad is it?

post #1 of 164
Thread Starter 
I know I'm going to get some disagreement on this subject so I'm asking upfront to understand my frame of reference...I live in a small fairly rural town with a low crime rate. Most people don't lock their doors or their cars. Recently I was just having a discussion with someone that they don't even know where their house keys are as they have never locked their house.

I know things can happen anywhere but after many years of living in a town like this, you start to get used to the innocence.

Many parents I know in town (including me) have left kids in the car while running into a store for just a minute. The range of safety seems to vary a bit. Personally, I have only done it in situations such as - babe's asleep in the car, its a cool day, lock the doors w/windows up, run into dry cleaners - can see car the whole time - pay and leave. Others I know have been more lax, others say they would never do it. Someone I know said she only does it if her dog is in the trunk as he would bark if anyone came near the car.

Several women I know have had people come up to them and threaten to call DSS on them, or in one case the police. I can understand why in certain situations, in others it seems surprising given the circumstances. I guess I don't think its a black and white issue but it seems to be treated as such. I would never leave my kid alone in a car in a more urban area, nor in a situation where I couldn't see the car, or would be gone more than 2 minutes. But do people really unbuckle kids and bring them back in the house every time they forget something? I find that so hard to believe.

Anyway, just curious your thoughts on the subject.
post #2 of 164
post #3 of 164
Oh boy. We have gone round and round on this one here on good ole MDC.

Personally, I think it's fine, if you live in a safe area, lock the doors/windows and/or are within eyesight, and are just gone a minute.

Ymmv. Lots of people's on this site do.
post #4 of 164
post #5 of 164
I can see myself doing the same thing if I lived in a town like the OP's. However I live in the heart of a big city and I would never feel comfortable leaving her in the car here, even if I could see the car the whole time.
post #6 of 164
Thread Starter 
what does ymmv stand for? Thanks.
post #7 of 164
Your mileage may vary.
post #8 of 164
Other than paying at the gas station, I tend to not leave the kids in the car when we are away from the house. This is more due to the fact that I live in a suburb of DC, and you never know what can happen. But I am actually more afraid of the car overheating than them getting snatched.

However, there have been multiple time when the boys are asleep in the car when we get home so I will leave them in their carseats, windows rolled down, back door open (which leads to the carport) until they wake up. I only do it when the temperature is below 70, even though the carport is shaded.

(ymmv stands for your mileage may vary).

post #9 of 164
I have three small kids. 4, 2, and 7 months.I also have an 8 yr old but most of the time he is at school. I leave them in the car when I go into pay for gas or if I am running into the little corner store to get milk or something. If I can see the car I don't have a problem with it or even see what the problem is. I won't leave them if I can't see the car, no matter how quick I will be. I figure that my kids have more of a chance getting hit by a car in the parking lot of the gas station then in anything happening while I run into pay.
post #10 of 164
I have two children (almost 6 years old and almost 9 months old). I would not leave either of them in a car while I was away from it.

post #11 of 164
Yep, this one has been around a few times already. I live in a suburb of a large city. I leave the kids in the car to return library books or videos to an outside return slot. I always use pay-at-the-pump, so that's not an issue. I will also leave kids in the car if its in the driveway and I need to run back to the house for a forgotten something. Or to take one sleeping kid to their bed before coming back and getting the other one. I wouldn't leave them in the car if I was actually entering a building.

Given the actual statistics on children being kidnapped kids kidnapped by strangers in the entire US), that's not my concern. I'm more worried about an overheated car or one of the kids doing something like pretending to drive and accidently putting the car out of park or something.
post #12 of 164
I've left them in the car for quick runs into the corner store or whatnot as long as my 11yo or 14yo are with them. I've never left the younger 3 alone though except when I forgot something in the house and then I've left them in the car while I ran in to grab whatever I'd forgotten.
post #13 of 164
Oh yeah, this has been done already
I see nothing wrong if you can see the car at all times. I also only do it when a dog is in the truck (you didn't mean trunk right?? cause that's bad!!)
I will say that everyday I leave dd in the truck in the driveway while I load my daycare dogs. We are also in an area where nobody locks their houses or vehicles, I have no idea where our house keys are.
post #14 of 164
Well, at gas stations I pay at the pump, so that isn't an issue.

The only place that I leave my kids in the car is at the dry cleaners and only if I am the only customer. The whole front of the building is glass and so I can see if I'll be the only one in there. If I am, I turn off the car and take the keys (but I don't lock it ) and go in and get my stuff, all the while looking out the window. On one level, I feel slightly uncomfortable doing it, but when I've really taken the time to examine my feeling, I think it's because of the climate of fear that abounds. When I think of it logically, really, what could happen? Neither kid can unbuckle themselves and I'm inside for less than 3 minutes, usually less than 2. I live in small-ish safe town and I'm comfortable with what I do in this particular instance. Of course, if I really felt they were in danger, I would take them in with me, even if it meant more inconvenience, but I just don't think they are in any danger.
post #15 of 164
I'm so guilty of this. I've left them in my apartment complex parking lot while I run into my apartment for something, literally for less than 5 minutes, always. I'll leave them while I run in to pay for gas. I'll leave the baby in the car while I drop the older two off at mom and dad's. It's never for long but I sometimes feel a little guilty for it. Sometimes the pain in the ass factor outweighs all.
post #16 of 164
i do this. in the driveway at my house or my moms while i get what i forgot. at the gas station when the baby is asleep if i'm close enough to see the car from the store. but i leave all the doors OPEN b/c this being the south I'm more worried about heat stroke than kidnapping. i live in a small town too.
post #17 of 164
Thread Starter 
does anyone have a link to the other threads about this subject?
post #18 of 164
I did this once, Emily was 8 months old, and had her first real sickness. She wouldn't nurse at all that day (she wanted to, would start, then pull away screaming) and we found out she had a sore throat. She always nursed to sleep, so she didn't get a nap that day, and neither did I. I was so emotionally drained, when I was driving from the doctor's to the grocery store she fell asleep, I was so happy to get a break from the crying. I had to run in to get something, so I left her in the car, with the door locked. I asked a little old lady to keep an eye on her while I ran in, and she was happy to oblige (I'm sure I looked a mess!) I ran in and got what I needed, and as I was coming out, dh asked me to pick something else up (isn't that always the luck?) Emily was still asleep, and I wasn't sure if the old lady had frozen foods in her car, so I thanked her and she went on her way. I debated for a minute whether to go back in, and I did. I ran in, got what I needed, and came back out. When I got back out, Emily was screaming and near hysterical. I figure she must have woken up shortly after I left, and spent the few minutes crying, and I felt SO awful that I'd put her through that. I don't think I'd ever do that again, even though we live in a very rural area where people don't lock their doors and leave their cars running when they run into the corner store.

(I used this as an example as why I didn't think she could handle CIO on a mainstream board and they starting screaming about how Emily should be taken away from me. It upset me for a long time afterwards but it is nice to know that I'm not the only one who has done it. In certain cases, it's not a problem, IMO.)
post #19 of 164
Originally Posted by TranscendentalMom
does anyone have a link to the other threads about this subject?
Well, here's the link to mine
post #20 of 164
http://www.kidsandcars.org/ has lots of um, disturbing facts and stories.
It freaked me out.

Who knew children left alone in cars are at risk for, and there are personal stories concerning:

being left alone in a hot vehicle (hyperthermia)
inadvertently setting a vehicle into motion
getting trapped in power windows
getting trapped in a vehicle trunk
starting a fire inside a vehicle (?!)
being abducted while left in a vehicle

I think the power windows, being abducted, and starting fire scenarios were the ones that fuh-reaked me out. If a person stopped to think about it, a car is nothing but a little powder keg on wheels, ready to strangulate anyone inside. Ok, not really, but if you read the site you might think so.
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