Do you leave your kids in the car? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Do you leave your kids in the car while you go into an establishment?
No, never! 75 34.40%
Sometimes, depends on the circumstances. 93 42.66%
Only when the child/ren are at a responsible age. 43 19.72%
All the time! 7 3.21%
Voters: 218. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 07:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yesterday, I had to run a very quick errand. I just had to run into an office to sign some paperwork. The office is in a strip mall with all open windows facing out and I was able to park directly in front of it. The weather was beautiful so I really didn't want to drag my three carseat kids out of the car. I could see into my vehicle from the office and felt relatively comfortable doing that, since it was only a few minute jog inside. But I'm paranoid about doing that, I know I'd be pretty concerned to see some kids sitting a car by themselves, even if the car was running. I'd probably wait and watch for five/ten minutes and see if the parent came back before seriously considering calling the cops. Of course, there are tons of factors pertaining to this- weather, if the car is running, what kind of parking lot and establishment, age of children etc. But I would hate for someone to freak out and call the cops on me for a few minutes convenience. It got me wondering what other parents thought and do.

 

(BTW-the office was closed due to air quality (whatever that mean....) and I ended up going through a drive through kiosk they had set up rendering my conundrum moot.)

 

ETA:I only will consider leaving  my kids in the car in a situation where I can see the car at all times, like at the gas station if I have to go inside or like the above where I could see my car through the window. Otherwise, its really not a option. I do leave the car running if its cold or hot enough to warrant temp control. 


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#2 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 07:36 AM
 
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I don't do it.  That's just my thing.  It depends where you're at too though.  To run an errand I'll just take them.  I freak out too much about leaving them alone.  DH does it when he goes to the gas station.  I just can't.  They're not in car seats anymore though just boosters so it's not an issue getting them in and out of the car.

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#3 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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I do sometimes- but my kids are 6 and 8. And only at the gas station- tho they usually get out and come in so I try to do my stop at gas station when they are not with me... but yes- I have.  I probably would not in the scenario you described- but who knows- alot now my 8 yo does nt want to go in places... he is a pain... oh I leave them in car if I have to go pick up another one at school too.

They generally get out tho- and that is where it gets unsafe.


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#4 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 07:48 AM
 
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Almost never.  DH would freak out if I would leave DS in the car for any reason.  We each has our irrational fears and DS being snatched from the car is one of DH's.


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#5 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 07:55 AM
 
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Depends. I pick things up for my mom at her doctor's office a lot, and it's never more than a run in, run out thing. If I can get the space right in front of the door, where I can keep my eye on the car at all times, then I will leave the kids in. I NEVER leave the car running or the keys in it, my daughter can get in and out of her booster and my biggest fear is her knocking the car out of gear and crashing it into the front of the doc's office. Otherwise, the kids go with me, I just don't feel comfortable leaving them. 


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#6 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 08:00 AM
 
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Only at select places around town. It has to be a place where I am comfortable with the parking lot, people that go in and out, etc... I am in a small town in a very rural area if that makes a difference. Half the cars are usually unlocked in any given place. I have 4 kids 9 and under. I will leave the toddler strapped in at the girl's school and the gymnastics center if I am just running in and dropping/picking up a kid. Those two parking lots are such that the risk of him getting hit by a car is greater then getting taken out of the car. They are parking nightmares! Tiny, old lots with a high volume of traffic, ice, and not enough places to park. Any place else and I take all the kids in with me. 


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#7 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 08:04 AM
 
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My reply got eaten, but basically no, never if I am going inside. It is illegal is several states and is considered physical neglect by cps, so not worth the risk for us.

 

As for other parents, unless it is a very small child or the situation looked bad, I would not be inclined to call the cops. I figure most parents know there own kids well enough to make those decisions. I did wait one night in a parking lot to make sure a mom had returned because it was dark and she had left the car running. She was back within 10 minutes or so.


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#8 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 08:56 AM
 
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My kids are just shy of 4 and 6yrs old and I do leave them in the car for a few minutes at a time when I run in to the post office or the library to return a book. I only do this though if I can park in a spot where I can see the car from inside and only if it is not very cold/hot so that I can take the keys with me as I don't want them to have access to the ability to turn the car on/off, roll up/down windows, etc. We live in a town with fewer than 2000 people where many people don't even lock their doors during the day. If I still lived in Portland I wouldn't do this as I wouldn't feel as confident of the safety of it.


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#9 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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I wouldn't do it.

 

  I used to, but someone I know got arrested for leaving her sleeping son in the car, and it was such a traumatic experience for all of them. 

 

I also used to be a Child Protective Services social worker, and while it really depends on the situation, there is definite potential for legal action to be taken.  While I personally don't think it's horrible to leave for 2 min while you run in the post office while you can see the car, it's still a risk.  The police or the person who calls them doesn't know how long you've been gone.  And also, the extremely rare chance that someone would try to steal your car, whether they notice the kid in the backseat or not, is pretty scary.  

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#10 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 09:21 AM
 
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No, never.

I lost a friend over this topic because more than once I got to the local fabric store/craft store or grocery store in my neighborhood and found my friends toddlers tethered in their carseats alone in the car. The first time or two, I said to her I don't think this is good idea. The fourth time I saw this I said something to her husband. She called me later, gets all b****y and tells me to get off my high horse and mind my own business. She says she's only gone "ten minutes" but once I stood at her locked car for half an hour waving at her cute toddlers while she was filling up her cart.

Maybe some folks shouldn't have children.
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#11 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 09:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4midablemama View Post

Depends. I pick things up for my mom at her doctor's office a lot, and it's never more than a run in, run out thing. If I can get the space right in front of the door, where I can keep my eye on the car at all times, then I will leave the kids in. I NEVER leave the car running or the keys in it, my daughter can get in and out of her booster and my biggest fear is her knocking the car out of gear and crashing it into the front of the doc's office. Otherwise, the kids go with me, I just don't feel comfortable leaving them. 



Umm..yeah! I don't own a car, but my ex does, and I was talking to him about this once, and he said that he would never leave DS in the car for this reason. His younger brother climbed out of his seat once and accidentally took the car out of park. Thankfully the car was in the driveway and couldn't really go anywhere (the driveway is hard to explain, they may have rolled into the street but its not busy), and got SUPER lucky and no one was hurt. Scared the life out of my ex's mom though, and she never left the car running ever again.

 

OP - I would say to only leave the kids in the car if the temp doesn't need to be controlled, because of the above situation. Your kids may be too young (although my ex's brother was only 2 or 3 when he did it), but once they are old enough to climb out of their carseats I wouldn't leave the car running at all. I might leave the radio on if I could take the keys out, but that would be it.

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#12 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 11:38 AM
 
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It really depends on the location.  At the gas station most places I can pay at the pump.  If it's a station I'm familiar with, and I have to go inside, and I can see the car then I'll leave him.  But if it's a strange place (so I don't know the layout and am not sure if I'll be able to see him), then I'll take him out. 

 

If I'm stopping at a taco truck, and can park right next to the truck, I'll leave him in the car (with a window down so I can hear him), since I'm never more than ~20 feet away. 

 

If he's sound asleep and I'm in my (or a friend's) driveway, or in front of my house, I'll run inside long enough to pee or grab a book, but then either sit in the car (if it's cold) or on the porch until he wakes up.  If the car's in the garage, I turn on the monitor and go upstairs. 

 

I'll leave him in the car if I'm just running to the drop box to drop a library book (double parked), or running to the mailbox to drop a letter.  But for the most part if I'm going inside someplace I take him with me.  I do usually leave him in the car while I go pay the meter though - around here our meters are usually 1 per block, so it's rarely next to the car, and you have to pay and then put the ticket on your dash, so dragging him along for that is a PITA. 


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#13 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 11:39 AM
 
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I've done it are when dropping ds1 at school.  I don't have to actually go inside with him, though I do go through a gate to sign him in.  I can usually see the car the whole time (there're only 10 possible parking spots all within steps), plus ds's school is very small and everyone knows everyone else and we are all dropping/picking up at the same time, so I don't fear that someone I don't know is going to be bold enough to go into my car.

 

The only other time I do it is at home.  We don't actually have a driveway, so the car is sitting in the alley steps from our front door.  I carry the groceries in or clean out the car this way.  I have to park the car after bringing in the groceries or whatever, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to take ds2 out and put him back in, especially since Im busy in and out of the house (though I normally just throw the grocery bags inside the front door, not really inside), either he'd be alone inside the house or in the car and in the car he's tied up and can't get into trouble.  I don't even know if this counts as "leaving him in the car," for, say, cps purposes.  I mean, he's not really unattended.  I would be able to hear him and I can see him.  

 

At the gas station, I kinda feel like it's safer or equally as safe, at least, to leave them in the car as long as I can get a pump in direct sight of the register.  Places like parking lots and gas stations where there're cars moving in all directions sometimes unpredictably, gah.  I feel like they're safer in their car seats.  Of course, it's only a very rare occasion when I have to pay at the register anyway, like if the card reader thing is broken, but I'd usually rather move to a different pump or even gas station.

 

I would never consider leaving him the car with keys in it, though, not even for a moment.  When I get him in the car seat, I even make sure I have the keys in my pocket or hand, never drop them in the front seat or in my purse where someone could push me out of the way and then get access to them.  Carjackings are not uncommon where we live and there have been cases of people having their cars jacked with kids inside.  



Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

No, never.
I lost a friend over this topic because more than once I got to the local fabric store/craft store or grocery store in my neighborhood and found my friends toddlers tethered in their carseats alone in the car. The first time or two, I said to her I don't think this is good idea. The fourth time I saw this I said something to her husband. She called me later, gets all b****y and tells me to get off my high horse and mind my own business. She says she's only gone "ten minutes" but once I stood at her locked car for half an hour waving at her cute toddlers while she was filling up her cart.
Maybe some folks shouldn't have children.


Wow!  That's really crazy.  I cannot imagine how tense I'd feel knowing my kids were in the car unattended like that.  How could you enjoy your fabric shopping?  Did she just think *nothing* could happen?  Even if you're not worried the kids could get hurt or taken or something, I would really worry about someone calling the cops or cps.  And like others, I don't think I'd call real quick.  I suppose I'd probably wait around a while.  But if it was even the slightest bit warm outside and the child was sleeping, so I couldn't tell they were totally fine, I think I'd be on the phone immediately.  Was she generally a moron or just had this weird blind spot?  

 


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#14 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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I don't. I may consider it for brief trips when my kids are considerably older (they are 18 months and 7 years right now), but for the next few years, no. First, I see it as an unnecessary risk, second, I have some really unpleasant childhood memories from being left in a car for hours on end and the thought of putting my children in similar situations (even for short periods of time) makes me ill.

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#15 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 01:09 PM
 
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I was just thinking that.  My mom used to leave me in the car while she worked out at the gym.  Really sucked.  What do you do in a parking lot for an hour.  I think I was about 8.  It annoyed me more later on when she complained about her mom leaving her in the car to go into a bar a few times.  Right atleast that was a small town and there was a park across the street.  Meh. 

 

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I don't. I may consider it for brief trips when my kids are considerably older (they are 18 months and 7 years right now), but for the next few years, no. First, I see it as an unnecessary risk, second, I have some really unpleasant childhood memories from being left in a car for hours on end and the thought of putting my children in similar situations (even for short periods of time) makes me ill.



 

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#16 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 01:34 PM
 
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PLEASE never, never, never leave your kids in the car while it is running!! Take the keys with you. People who are desperate enough to steal your car may not care that there are kids inside, and then there are the people who are willing to steal your car BECAUSE there are kids inside. Please always take the keys with you.

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#17 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 02:08 PM
 
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My kids are 4 and 7.

 

I would never leave them in the car if it was running.  If it was too hot or cold outside I would take them with me - no question.

 

Otherwise I would leave them for a v. quick minute in circumstances like the OP describes (car fully visible to me at all times), and with all doors locked.

 

I would not leave them in the car if they expressed any discomfort in being left.


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#18 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 02:09 PM
 
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Only if I'll only be away for really just a minute or two, and only iwth the car locked and off, and only if the weather isn't too hot or cold, and only if my 9-year-old is there because she knows how to get the 3-year-old out of her car seat and out of the car, should something happen.


But yeah, if I have to run into a small shop where I can park right next to the shop and get in and out very very quickly, at this point I will.

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#19 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 02:39 PM
 
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I wouldn't do it.  Even if it's "not too hot" outside, the temperature inside the car can skyrocket very quickly.  Several children DIE here in Texas every summer because of this very thing. (I read once the actual physiological changes that cause death from being locked in a hot car. Heartbreaking to think of a baby going through that. Don't leave your dog in there, either.)

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#20 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 04:00 PM
 
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I do it frequently, but only when I can see the car at all times.  Paying for gas, running in somewhere quickly to pay a bill, etc.  Our town is small and made up of a primarily people 55 and over, so I don't worry.  In fact, I leave my purse (keys, money and all) in my car at night all the time.  No issues.  The sheriff writes articles with the newspaper on a fairly routine basis asking people to lock their doors. LOL


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#21 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 04:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysometimes View Post

I wouldn't do it.  Even if it's "not too hot" outside, the temperature inside the car can skyrocket very quickly.  Several children DIE here in Texas every summer because of this very thing. (I read once the actual physiological changes that cause death from being locked in a hot car. Heartbreaking to think of a baby going through that. Don't leave your dog in there, either.)



The hot car thing completely terrifies me.  I hate having my kids in a hot car even for a moment  --  like if I put the baby in the passenger's side and then have to walk around to the driver's side to get in myself, it gives me the weebie jeebies.  What if I had a heart attack on the way there, or I was mugged and injured?  I know that's totally paranoid, but I do think it and hate having it even pass through my mind.  And my car windows are tinted dark (which I hate!) so if somehow my little one were in the car and something had happened to me I don't think anyone would be able to see him.  BUT this is not an issue in *all* weather.  You only hear about that happening in Texas in the summer because it really does only happen when it's summer-y weather (and yes, that can happen any time of the year in certain locations  --  it was in the 80s here last week).  I understand that it can happen at lower temps than one might think, but it would not happen if it was say 55 degrees out and you were parked in the shade.  

 

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#22 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

No, never.
I lost a friend over this topic because more than once I got to the local fabric store/craft store or grocery store in my neighborhood and found my friends toddlers tethered in their carseats alone in the car. The first time or two, I said to her I don't think this is good idea. The fourth time I saw this I said something to her husband. She called me later, gets all b****y and tells me to get off my high horse and mind my own business. She says she's only gone "ten minutes" but once I stood at her locked car for half an hour waving at her cute toddlers while she was filling up her cart.
Maybe some folks shouldn't have children.


Good grief, really?! I agree, maybe some shouldn't....

 



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Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post



Umm..yeah! I don't own a car, but my ex does, and I was talking to him about this once, and he said that he would never leave DS in the car for this reason. His younger brother climbed out of his seat once and accidentally took the car out of park. Thankfully the car was in the driveway and couldn't really go anywhere (the driveway is hard to explain, they may have rolled into the street but its not busy), and got SUPER lucky and no one was hurt. Scared the life out of my ex's mom though, and she never left the car running ever again.


Wow, that's pretty scary! I will have to keep that in mind as the littles get bigger. Even to run back into the house to grab a forgotten purse could cause this. Eeek!

 



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Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

I was just thinking that.  My mom used to leave me in the car while she worked out at the gym.  Really sucked.  What do you do in a parking lot for an hour.  I think I was about 8.  It annoyed me more later on when she complained about her mom leaving her in the car to go into a bar a few times.  Right atleast that was a small town and there was a park across the street.  Meh. 

Yeah, that's not cool. Its boring, its hot and its really really not necessary.
 

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianojazzgirl View Post

 

I would not leave them in the car if they expressed any discomfort in being left.


This is a good point. I'd never force my kiddo(s) to stay somewhere s/he felt uncomfortable and scared. 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysometimes View Post

I wouldn't do it.  Even if it's "not too hot" outside, the temperature inside the car can skyrocket very quickly.  Several children DIE here in Texas every summer because of this very thing. (I read once the actual physiological changes that cause death from being locked in a hot car. Heartbreaking to think of a baby going through that. Don't leave your dog in there, either.)

Yup, I don't even leave the car in the driveway when it gets hot to run inside to grab my forgotten purse without turning the ac on full blast. Course I will have to pay better attention to grabbing my purse as they get older, I think! (above comment) Anyway, that scares the heck outta me! 
 

 


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#23 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 06:48 PM
 
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Nope, I don't.  Why take the risk for something that isn't necessary.  I pay for my gas at the pump and have absolutely no reason to leave them in the car alone (except in my locked garage with the engine off and the baby monitor on if they're napping.  I also have a remote starter, so I can theoretically leave the car on with the AC or heat on and lock the doors if I have to run in the house real quick for a lost purse but I have a garage so I don't need to do that. )  Is it a pain to take 3 kids in?  You bet.  Especially since you also can't leave coats on in the carseat so even if I have to run into someplace for 5 minutes, I have to get all three kids out of the car and into their coats, and then take off their coats and get them all back in.  But being inconvenienced is far better than losing my children.  And I guess it might be an over-reaction, except TWICE this year, a car was stolen with a baby/child in it in the small town in our county.  This town is tiny.  Yet, it still happened.  Children aren't always convenient...I made the decision to have children, so I made the decision to be slightly inconvenienced for a few minutes to bring them all in with me.  

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#24 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 07:25 PM
 
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I never have. I hated being left alone in the car when I was a kid and it really isn't safe most of the year. We have a few deaths a year because people take more than the few minutes they plan on and the temperature rises or falls more quickly than they think it will in the car. I wouldn't wait to call police if I saw children alone in a car because there is no way of knowing how long they have been there and the police may take a while to get there.
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#25 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 07:30 PM
 
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I do it every day. Kids are 6yo and 3yo. I have to go to the pharmacy every day to collect my medication and it's literally walk in and walk out, I also leave them in the car outside the dairy if I have to run in and get something. I'm the same as everyone else, I only leave them if I'm only going to be a couple of minutes and I can see the car while I'm in the shop. I take the keys out and set the alarm. I don't really worry about temperature here because it doesn't get super hot or super cold. If it is hot I'll leave all the windows down. I think the only reason anyone would be interested in my car is if I left my bag in there and I make sure I always take that with me to be on the safe side. Plus the car is an automatic so you can't knock it out of gear and if for some strange reason they took the break off (which I am 99% certain they would never do) it wouldn't roll anywhere.


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#26 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 09:55 PM
 
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the only time I leave the kids in the car is if I'm parked in my driveway and want to unload the car, or run inside to go to the bathroom, get something, etc. That's it. I've considered leaving them in the car stopping at the pharmacy, gas station, etc, but I always talk myself out of it. My gut says no!


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#27 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 10:12 PM
 
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Yes if:

   -I can see the car the whole time, or it's in my own driveway

   -I will be gone less than 5 minutes

   -It is cold out (or, say, under 60F if the car is in the driveway)

 

Never with the car running.  Never when I visit my family in the southern half of the US.

 

I am not wrangling three kids out of their car seats only to be faced with the decision to either run the kids through sub-zero weather with no coats to get inside or take an extra 10+ minutes to get them bundled up before exiting the vehicle (which I'm not sure is possible, actually).

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#28 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 10:32 PM
 
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No, no way in heck.

 

A few weeks ago I peered in a parked car and saw an infant in a FFing bucket there.   Alone.  Windows rolled up.  Called the cops.. I couldn't see if she was breathing.  Scariest moment in awhile.


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#29 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 10:39 PM
 
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I just did last week. Dd and I were on the way home from somewhere and I needed to stop and buy milk and bananas. She didn't want to come in, but wanted to stay in the car and read her book. It was a cloudy, rainy 45 degree day. She's 7 and fairly responsible. I locked the doors and left her there for the 10 minutes I was in the store. I don't think it's unsafe. The doors were locked so people couldn't get in. The car was not running. Dd stayed in the locked car the whole time. 10 minutes is about my max, and I'd never do it in the summer.

 

The last 6 months or so is when I felt comfortable leaving dd alone in a car for a few minutes while I dash in. I'd never do it with a toddler or preschooler. when I was 5, I knocked the car out of gear and it rolled down the hill. But then, that was back in the dark ages before car seats, or even seat belts.


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#30 of 129 Old 01-31-2012, 11:24 PM
 
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Here in CA it is illegal to leave a child 6 or younger unattended in the car, so I've never done it. I don't know at what age and under what circumstances I would feel comfortable leaving my child in the car. Too many bad things can happen for me to feel comfortable doing it. 


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