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

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Old 05-29-2006, 11:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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Old 05-29-2006, 11:52 PM
 
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Old 05-29-2006, 11:56 PM
 
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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.
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Old 05-29-2006, 11:58 PM
 
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:01 AM
 
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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.

Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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Old 05-30-2006, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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what does ymmv stand for? Thanks.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:08 AM
 
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Your mileage may vary.
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:11 AM
 
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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).

Siobhan

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:11 AM
 
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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.
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:35 AM
 
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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.

Andrea
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:40 AM
 
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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.
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:41 AM
 
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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.
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:46 AM
 
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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.
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Old 05-30-2006, 12:50 AM
 
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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.

~lisa~mama to 3 boys (1/02, 5/04, 12/06)
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:00 AM
 
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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.
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:06 AM
 
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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.
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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does anyone have a link to the other threads about this subject?

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:21 AM
 
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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.)
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TranscendentalMom
does anyone have a link to the other threads about this subject?
Well, here's the link to mine
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...t=police+truck
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:21 AM
 
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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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Old 05-30-2006, 02:25 AM
 
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I don't personally have issues with leaving a child in a car for literally just a minute or two as long as the car stays within sight at all times. I think that I have enough common sense and decent enough judgement to decide if/when it is safe and reasonable to do...and of course, that doesn't mean leaving it unlocked and running, LOL.
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspaghettimama
http://www.kidsandcars.org/ has lots of um, disturbing facts and stories.
It freaked me out.
It freaks me out to leave my child alone in the car, too. The only time I do it is when I am in sight of the car, say at the ATM or returning library books in the outside return slot. And it literally is only for a minute or two and I am just feet away. I think it is just too easy to go inside somewhere and get distracted and forget about your child. I've heard horror stories. I don't need to go to this site to know that they exist. I don't even like to leave her alone in the house where I cannot hear her.
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:27 AM
 
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I agree Wabi.

I have done it when the twins were younger.
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:29 AM
 
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But I would find out the laws in your particular state first. Its good to know what the law is in the event that someone threatens to call the police on you for running a movie up to the blockbuster slot.
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:29 AM
 
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ITA with Wabi Sabi too.
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:34 AM
 
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Well, I'm just neurotic and very easily swayed by personal stories of horrific car-induced trauma, so you'll be wanting to take whatever I say with a grain of salt. I'm an anti-carite.

But why DO cars catch on fire with kids inside? That is the nagging question in my mind. It seems so... not right. I mean, you think maybe it's just a one-off 12 year old smoking when mom goes into the store, but how do toddlers start fires in cars? Do the cars self-immolate? How weird.
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Old 05-30-2006, 04:21 AM
 
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Ahh, but are you equally swayed by stories of pedestrians being mowed down in crosswalks? Do those stories make you less likely to walk?? I don't know about your area but around here there's at least one pedestrian killed every month but I've never heard a story around here about spontaneous combustion of a vehicle with a toddler in it, or for that matter a story of a baby being stolen from a vehicle when a parent is in sight.
I really think it's about calculating actual risk and then deciding what risks you are willing to take for your family--I would NEVER not strap my baby into a carseat, but I would (and have) gone to the bank machine while my truck is parked at the curb.
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Old 05-30-2006, 05:07 AM
 
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Add me to the guilty list.

When it's -40F out and your pinkly warm baby is happily snoozing in his car seat, you gotta weigh the 100 percent likelihood of having a cold and screaming baby against the fraction-of-a-percent likelihood of something freaky happening while you're battling the elements for a minute.

OTOH, I've seen unattended kids that I've said something about and it reeeeeally pissed the other mama off. We were at a realtor's office getting some paperwork on a Saturday, and I stood outside for what seemed like an eternity while two kids, around the ages of three and five, bounced around the front seats of the car, with the engine running and keys in ignition!

Finally, I went inside and asked the realtor if she knew whose kids those were... turned out to be her secretary's kids. I don't know what the situation was-- maybe the secretary had to be at work on short notice, maybe she didn't have daycare on a Saturday, but I couldn't just sit there and watch those kids bounce around inside that car.

Their mama was peeved that I'd meddled in her business, but eeek!
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Old 05-30-2006, 05:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TranscendentalMom
does anyone have a link to the other threads about this subject?
I cannot believe what I witnessed today.

Here is another thread about kids left in cars. The OP deleted her OP
so you might have to read a little to piece it together. If I remember
correctly it was about the OP witnessing a woman who left her baby in
the car when she went to mail a letter at the post office, and crossed the
street to get to the PO.

I went threw all the www.kidsincars.org stories and made a list of how
these children died in cars (my reply is on page 5 of the above post).
I would attribute the majority of the child deaths to be highly negligible
rather than simply “child left in car”.

-Janna, independent mother of dd, Ms. Mattie Sky born on my 25th birthday, 06*23*2000. My Mama Feb.21,1938-Sept.10,2006
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Old 05-30-2006, 05:18 AM
 
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I would leave my seven year old and in the car if I have to run into the house real quick to grab something I forgot, otherwise no, I wouldn't leave my kid in the car alone. I always pay at the pump when getting gas etc. Beyond the house scenero, I've never been in a situation where I felt the need to leave the kids in the car. The library has a drive up drop off box and so does the movie store. I think if the weather were bad and I didn't want the kids out in that weather, I would just wait until DH was home to run my errands.

ETA I would have no problem walking somewhere to drop something off if the I could see the car the entire time, but that scenero has yet to happen.

Unassisted birthing, atheist, poly, bi WOHM to 4 wonderful, smart homeschooling kids Wes (14) Seth (7) Pandora Moonlilly (2) and Nevermore Stargazer (11/2012)  Married to awesome SAH DH.

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