It is *NEVER* ok to leave a child in a car unattended [Warning added by MNHQ - upsetting video]

(54 Posts)
Chibault Sat 03-Aug-13 03:03:43

Just watched this. http://www.upworthy.com/anyone-could-make-this-mistake-the-fact-it-happens-all-the-time-is-frightening

A past neighbour used to leave her children in the car on a fairly busy street, unattended, locked, with window down slightly, to sleep. She would be in the house, (which had no drive way), so the car was parked somewhere 'nearish' the house. She would pop out every so often to check them. If you do this I want you to know - it is NEVER ok to leave them alone.

Mumsnetters - what do you think?
To me, it's neglect.

My dad was a policeman for many years and dealt with the deaths of children who had been left in the cars unattended, because of things like unexpected fires, overheating. When I had a child, he explained to me how dangerous this was and to NEVER do this.

Really I just have to say, especially because of the recent hot weather - please if you're someone who does this, even when the car is on your driveway - it's not ok, unless you are with the child.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sat 03-Aug-13 03:19:25

Too much of a blanket statement imo. I left mine in the car when I went to pay for petrol when they were small, I don't recall leaving them for any other reason but then I lived in a place where you couldn't easily see the car from the window. As they grew older there were times when I opted to leave them in the car for a few minutes to grab a bit of shopping. For me it was about assessing the risks and acting accordingly.

NeedlesCuties Sat 03-Aug-13 07:58:32

I think that's a bit alarmist.

Surely if you follow that logic you'd never leave a child in a different area of a house alone either.

There could be a fire start when the child is asleep upstairs and you'd be unable to run up to get him/her and other such examples.

Personally I think leaving a child in a car in a driveway which is visible from the house is a risk I'm willing to take. It is not neglect. Neglect is ignoring their needs, not giving due consideration to what the child's best interests are.

Parents have left children in cars for a nap, or even in the garden in buggies for years and years.

Nikeairyfairy Sat 03-Aug-13 08:29:54

Yep - another one who takes the risk of sleeping child in car. Seen from house and checked on frequently. Parked in shade with window down.

HolofernesesHead Sat 03-Aug-13 08:31:40

What about the age of the child? What age do you think is okay to leave them in a car while you e.g. get some cash out of the machine right by the roadside?

ChippingInHopHopHop Sat 03-Aug-13 08:35:19

I think you need to see someone about your overwhelming level of anxiety.

poachedeggs Sat 03-Aug-13 08:36:22

Oh fgs I leave mine in the car while I whizz round the co-op. It's a small town, we know everyone, everyone knows the DC, the windows are open.

I wouldn't leave them for longer than five minutes, and I only do it on the street outside the shop. I think if something terrible was to happen to me that stopped me getting 15 yards back to the car AND it went on fire spontaneously then I'd be spectacularly unlucky.

ArabellaBeaumaris Sat 03-Aug-13 08:38:15

Glad to know your blanket statement can trump my judgement about my own situation & my own kids.

Spottypurse Sat 03-Aug-13 08:40:28

I left DD in the car yesterday with the dog while I went into the local shop. She's 11. It never occurred to me I was doing anything wrong? The windows were open and I thought it was better than leaving the dog on his own?

SanityClause Sat 03-Aug-13 08:42:57

It's the putting them in the car and driving them around that's statistically more likely to kill them.

But perhaps your father wasn't a traffic cop, and didn't see many fatal accidents?

ComtesseDeFrouFrou Sat 03-Aug-13 08:43:33

So I shouldn't leave a 16 year old child alone in the car while I pay for petrol? hmm

Judge not, lest ye be judged, OP.

Tee2072 Sat 03-Aug-13 08:44:34

I agree, you need to do something about your anxiety.

And your alarmist father. Who should really think about how often cars just spontaneously combust.

I don't have a car. If I did? I'd do what I thought was right about leaving my son in a car.

Cheeseatmidnight Sat 03-Aug-13 08:48:33

I cannot see the car from the window so don't do it, but if I had a drive I would. I would probably sit right by the window though on mn smile

slightlysoupstained Sat 03-Aug-13 09:02:40

blogs.babycenter.com/tips_and_tricks/20130605-child-deaths-in-hot-cars-three-ways-to-prevent-tragedy/

Can't watch the video as DS asleep, but DP & I were discussing this recently. Apparently it can only take 15 minutes for a baby to start suffering damage, which is a lot shorter than I'd realised and well into "I'll just pop in, oh there's a queue" territory.

I don't drive, so not likely to affect me yet (learning), but while I'm not saying I'd never step away from the vehicle, I now know that it's actually possible for harm to occur much faster than I thought. It is genuinely dangerous, and I would never criticise someone for deciding that for them, the best option was an absolute blanket rule.

I would be inclined to raise the alarm if I found a small child left sleeping in a car alone. Though Spotty, I think 11 is quite old enough to be trusted to look after herself and dog & to get them both out if car if it got too hot & you hadn't returned.

slightlysoupstained Sat 03-Aug-13 09:08:17

Oh damn, forgot to say I love the idea in the linked article of putting a big teddy in the car seat, that gets moved to the front passenger seat when baby is in car as a reminder that baby is there. Horrifyingly easy to forget if they're fast asleep and there's a break in routine that throws you off.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Sat 03-Aug-13 09:08:46

I thought the rationale against it was also that:

- something happens to YOU while separated from your kids and as they are alone and you cannot get to the or get someone to them, then they are in real trouble.

- for older/mobile children, they try to look for you, get out of the car and get run over, lost, etc.

ShowOfHands Sat 03-Aug-13 09:23:49

I'm going to report your post so that MN can put a warning on it. That linked video is equal parts distressing and disgusting. There's nothing wrong with highlighting a genuine issue, but linking to videos showing a dramatized film of a child dying from heatstroke is in incredibly poor taste.

I am married to a police officer btw. And we both leave our ds in the car when he's asleep. He's at the back of the house, in the shade, 2 doors and 2 windows open and I sit by the car and read. This is perfectly safe.

insancerre Sat 03-Aug-13 09:27:17

where have all these perfect parents come from who never leave their children unattended ever, and never swear at them either
mumsnet never used to be like this
what happened to good old fashioned benign neglect?

K8Middleton Sat 03-Aug-13 09:30:32

I hate scaremongering blanket statements. They are not helpful because they stop people thinking. We all need to carefully consider the risks each and every time.

Being told what to do by some hysterical random on the Internet is patronising and counter productive.

badguider Sat 03-Aug-13 09:36:00

Articles from the US are assuming a FAR higher outside heat than we get most of the time here. And cars mostly have air con when driving so the driver hasn't got a true sense of the outside temperature, and they're talking degrees F when they talk about the rate of warming.
I seriously doubt anybody in the uk would think it fine to leave their baby in the car in the temperatures we've bbeen having recently but the rest of the time I'm happy for people to make their own judgement. If its 15C outside the car is unlikely to turn into an oven unless in direct sun for a long time.

RobotHamster Sat 03-Aug-13 09:41:39

If you'd suggested leaving a dog in the car then nobody would say it was ok.
Leaving a child in the car for a few mins to pay for fuel/get cash out is fine if you're happy to do it, I think. Personally I don't like leaving DS asleep in the car for any length of time so I don't do it.

Your post is scaremongering and patronising - you 'want me to know this is not ok' - well thanks for that but I'll be the judge of whether or not it is 'ok'.

zippey Sat 03-Aug-13 09:45:10

I also disagree with judging with the decisions of parents in a situation like this. Sometimes it's a relief when your child falls asleep, so as long as child is comfortable, windows are open etc, you shouldn't have to worry about unlikely scenarios like cars combusting. That's just silly and ott.

Caster8 Sat 03-Aug-13 09:46:43

I have seen threads like this before.

The answer seems to be, it depends who does it.
If it is someone who has an unblemished social record, as it were, the conseuqences are not the same as someone who is already "known to social services".

I leave DD in the car when I pay for petrol. I want you to know that it is ok.

Passthesaltdear Sat 03-Aug-13 10:29:37

I leave baby all the time sleeping in the car window down in the shade on the drive

Tee2072 Sat 03-Aug-13 10:29:57

insacrre we're still around. We just get tired of fighting against the over protective heliocoptering parents.

wigglesrock Sat 03-Aug-13 12:42:13

I do it, I leave mine sleeping in the car outside our house - we don't have a drive - our car is right outside the front door - it's closer to me outside than upstairs.

I am perfectly comfortable with the assessments I make every day with regard to my kids safety - from leaving the youngest one asleep in the car to letting the oldest one run to do a message.

My husband has come across some horrible situations re neglect of children not one of them has involved a car or sleeping.

noblegiraffe Sat 03-Aug-13 12:48:52

Worrying about heat - valid concern
Worrying about car bursting into flames - silly nonsense
Worrying about car being stolen with child in it - seems to happen occasionally, so assess risk and adjust behaviour accordingly.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HarderToKidnap Sat 03-Aug-13 13:01:32

I like the way you said "my dad was a policeman" as if non of us know any police officers and therefore will all be agog to hear the official position from your dad... My dad was also a policeman for 32 years and never mentioned this to me. My mum was a policewoman but only for 10 years so wet behind the ears really, we can forgive her for never mentioning it to me.

I haven't got a drive and often have to park the car a little way from the house... My dilemma was always when bringing in lots of loads of heavy shopping and a sleeping DS. I'd bring DS in first normally and then pop him straight in the cot and then leave my front door open so hopefully if I dropped down dead someone would see which house I was from... But then started bringing in shopping first as DS would start to wake and then be crying horrible mess. I figured someone would notice him sleeping in the car if I dropped down dead in transit between car and front door. I also have lots of fond memories of being left in the car before school allowed to listen to the radio and going in at 0850. My mum worked nearby and would go off to work leaving me in the car, I had to remember to lock the door though! I was about 7.

It's often perfectly safe and sensible to leave children in the car.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 03-Aug-13 13:08:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BackforGood Sat 03-Aug-13 13:13:14

Ridiculous to say 'never'.
Understandable being cautious if you are the poster who knew 2 children that died in a car fire, but then, sadly, I know of children that have died in a house fire - by that logic, they can't ever be in a house either hmm
Obviously tragic for any child to die, but you need to put it in perspective.

superbabysmummy Sat 03-Aug-13 15:43:00

I leave DD in the car when paying for petrol, doesn't seem worth the hassle waking her up to pay for it then strapping her back in and settling her again...

Also, if she's sleeping would leave her in the car outside, in shade with me keeping an eye out, we live pretty rurally so really makes no difference if she is upstairs in her room or outside the back door in the car, I am happy that she's safe.

DeepPurple Sat 03-Aug-13 17:23:15

I've never left DD in a car to sleep as she is such a heavy sleeper I could swing her round by her ankles and she wouldn't wake up! I've always been able to take her in with me to finish her nap.

I do leave her in the car whilst I pay for petrol, get cash etc though.

If it is hot when we get in the car I wouldn't leave her in there though as it does heat up very quickly.

There are so many sad cases these days where children in hot countries have been forgotten whilst their parent has gone off to work etc. So very sad sad

MiaowTheCat Sat 03-Aug-13 19:03:15

It's people like the OP who stop me getting out and about with my children. I have two that are non-walkers - I HAVE to leave one in the car while I take the other one in... and I worry about people like the OP taking offence at that 1 minute while I have to do so and ringing social services on me.

So thanks OP. I don't go out during the day when I'm on my own for that.

You're also really offensive btw.. "I want you to know it's NOT ok"... well I want you to know that sitting in splendid judgement on the internet ordering women around is NOT ok either.

MultipleMama Sat 03-Aug-13 21:29:33

I have 4 young children under 5.

So, you want me to wake one or all up and take them in to pay for petrol/pop into the shop? I don't think so.

You can tell me it's not okay, and I'll tell you it is not okay to judge a parent on the Internet about their child's safety.

If the queue is long when I pop in, I leave and find another shop or go another day. If I leave them in the car the windows are down slightly, saying that; what if it's really could outside so you close the window to keep warmth in, you gunna judge me for that? If the car is hot; I put the windows don't slightly and their fans should already be on.

My house is more likely to set on fire than my car; should I just put them in the kennel with the dog or will you accuse me of suffocating them with dog hair or the kennel setting on fire?

I understand the risks and the warnings but you have no right to judge me for deciding against them. Nothing is more important than my kids. And that video is disgusting and horrifying. No parent should ever have to see that.

Tee2072 Sun 04-Aug-13 09:25:05

I'm beginning to think the OP is a journo. Or just a shit stirring troll.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Aug-13 09:35:20

I used to leave ds in the car all the time to sleep. I don't think there is anything wrong at all with doing that bearing in mind I was sitting in the car too. I get fed up with people saying they leave their children in the car unattended whilst they go shopping. Fair enough if they are old enough to be responsible but not young children or babies.

I remember calling security at a John Lewis store for a baby alone in a car. 20 minutes after I had first seen the baby the mother came back and said that she had only popped in to change something and was only gone 10 mins, blatantly not true. She spoke to me as if I was unreasonable in thinking she should take her baby out of the car when she went shopping so I assume she did it all the time. The baby was 8 months old, according to the mother, and 'needed to sleep and couldn't possibly be disturbed'. Fwiw the security guard was useless and I thought then that the next time I saw something like that I would just call the police 101 number.

As for leaving children in the car at a petrol station, never. It may be rare but it does happen - cars being stolen, cars exploding. Just not worth it particularly in these days where you can find petrol stations that have pay at pump facilities.

zippey Mon 05-Aug-13 23:09:43

Just watched the video. Its melodramatic nonsence.

edam Mon 05-Aug-13 23:21:46

You have to weigh up risks. It's already been explained that the video is American so not really applicable to the UK, not least because of temperatures. But in this country, I'm prepared to bet that children are safer in the car while you pay for petrol than being carried across the forecourt, especially if they are old enough to walk across the forecourt themselves.

Risk of a toddler getting distracted and wandering in front of a car in an area where there are lots of cars moving about, and most drivers won't be looking for obstacles at toddler height, would be quite high, I would have thought.

exoticfruits Mon 05-Aug-13 23:34:48

You do have to weigh up the risks- sometimes it just isn't practical to take them out with you.

cory Tue 06-Aug-13 09:32:21

SanityClause Sat 03-Aug-13 08:42:57
"It's the putting them in the car and driving them around that's statistically more likely to kill them."

Very, very true. All the statistics show that this is pretty well the most dangerous thing we can do to our children. Yet you never seem to see scare-mongering videos showing all possible ghastly scenarios. Funny that...

Interesting that Chibault has not bothered her arse to come back to this thread and read any of the views posted here.

I used to leave the boys in the car at the petrol station when I nipped in to pay. I decided very early on, that was safer than trying to carry a baby in a car seat whilst shepherding a 2 year old and a 4 year old across a petrol station forecourt.

Most people are sensible and capable of assessing the risks in their own situations - and only an idiot would assume that they can make a blanket statement like the OP, that applies to every single family in every single situation, everywhere, always.

There are a few idiots who will leave very small children in hot cars, and sometimes that does lead to tragedy. This needs to be flagged up, so that more of these people read the warnings. But posting a blanket warning like the OP is NOT targeting the warnings at those who need them, or at the specific situations where the danger is most real.

My dad (also, funnily enough, an ex copper - he was a Special) once spotted a baby left asleep in a car on a very hot day at a County Show. He alerted the police, who broke into the car and handed the baby over to the paramedics. They told dad that the baby wasn't asleep, he was unconscious, and dad had saved his life by raising the alarm. He never used this anecdote as a scare-tactic to prevent any parent from ever leaving any child in a car anywhere. It is called having mature judgement, something the OP lacks, imo.

jammiedonut Tue 06-Aug-13 10:27:16

Apart a year ago I'd say you were being alarmist..until I was shopping with a friend and her licence plate was read over the tannoy as her car was on fire. We'd been in the shop (tesco express, so not massive) for no more than 5 minutes, and someone had spotted smoke and alerted the staff. I thank god that her son wasn't with us that day as we'd usually leave him in there while we nipped in for lunch. It turns out there was faulty wiring in the sound system of her (new) car. We were both shocked at how quickly a fire could take hold in a car and really made us rethink leaving kids in unattended cars. Obviously, the chances of this happening again are low, but because of my personal experience I won't leave ds in the car on his own, even if that means waking him. I know everyone must think I'm barmy at petrol stations!

Caster8 Tue 06-Aug-13 11:06:07

Looked up some figures.
2 in every 1000 vehicles catch fire per year in the Uk.
Figures for 2007 in the UK were 50,000 vehicles.

Caster8 Tue 06-Aug-13 11:10:38

Those figures dont go together do they hmm
Off to do some further maths

Caster8 Tue 06-Aug-13 11:14:53

I dont see how it can be 2 in every 1000.
34 million vehicles in UK, 28 million are cars.

50,000 out of say 25 million in 2007 is [helps my maths and probably near enough estimate], is 1 in 5000.

Too many for my liking, and I too am aware of a car that caught fire in a garage. No one in it.

noblegiraffe Tue 06-Aug-13 11:15:38

Is that 2 in 1000 vehicles in a crash? Because otherwise that figure seems exceptionally unlikely. Car parks would be regularly ablaze!

Rooners Tue 06-Aug-13 11:17:31

I can't bring myself to watch it. Is it really a pile of shit or is it genuinely what happens?

I am horrified at the first image alone, I don't want to be distressed beyond belief by watching something that's actually incorrect or intended to emotionally manipulate.

So will I be educated, or just disgusted if I watch it?

Eyesunderarock Tue 06-Aug-13 11:39:32

It's a public information film from the USA about the dangers of leaving babies and toddlers in a car in the heat, and the fact that they can die within 15 minutes.
Obviously it is less relevant if you are thinking of Hampstead, 60 degrees and parked under a tree, or if you live inside the Arctic circle, but children do die every year in these situations.
In the USA the death toll is hundreds a year.
I was a child in the 60s and 70s. PIF were designed to scare the shit out of you and make you take the threat seriously. Yes, the film is distressing.

Caster8 Tue 06-Aug-13 11:40:41

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_fire

The 2 in 1000 includes arson which includes joyriders setting vehicles alight.
So I assume it is all vehicle fires.

Rooners Tue 06-Aug-13 11:59:07

Thankyou Eyes. That's really helpful. I will still have an inner fight with myself as to whether to watch it or not, but thankyou for the information - much appreciated.

Rooners Tue 06-Aug-13 12:07:22

I've skimmed it. Without sound.

It was distressing but not as much as I feared - I think the fact the child passed out made it less horrible that it might have been. I think there are worse scenarios, where the child does not just slip into unconsciousness. The first woman was clearly concerned but didn't raise the alarm.

It makes it clear how much we MUST take it seriously if we see a child in a car.

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