University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FAR7512

Tips to Avoid Forgetting Children in the Car1

Carol Church2

Figure 1. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

With all that busy parents have on their minds, it can be easy to make absent-minded blunders and mistakes. I’ve certainly mislaid my share of permission slips and library books, and back in the newborn days I once put the milk away in the cabinet overnight.

Unfortunately, however, not every tired parent’s mistake turns out to be harmless. Every year, we hear heartbreaking stories of parents who accidentally left children alone in the car on a warm day with tragic results. In many cases, a routine had been changed and the parents believed the child to be safely elsewhere (Safe Kids USA, n.d.).

Safety professionals have some simple tips to help parents avoid making this terrible error. Always place your purse, briefcase, cell phone, or other personal belongings in the backseat, next to or at the feet of the child. This makes it much less likely that you’ll forget the child is there. Set your cell phone or calendar to send a reminder to ask if the child is where he or she should be, especially when schedules are complicated or have changed, and tell your daycare provider to call if your child is late or absent with no explanation (Safe Kids USA, n.d.).

And, of course, never intentionally leave a child alone in a car, even just for a few moments. Children’s bodies heat up faster than adults’, and a car’s temperature can rise 19 degrees in just 10 minutes (Safe Kids USA, n.d.).

Finally, share your awareness with other parents. A few simple precautions can help avert a tragedy.

Listening, learning and living together, it’s the science of life.  “Family Album” is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences and of WUFT-FM.  If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to this segment visit:


Safe Kids USA (n.d.) Safety guides: Kids in and around cars. Retrieved from



This document is FAR7512, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date May 17, 2012, as program 1659. Published on EDIS March 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Carol Church, writer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.