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Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Set up reminders about kids in back seat

By By the Advocate Editorial Board
Aug. 3, 2013 at 3:03 a.m.


Being a parent is a tough job. Your life revolves around not just taking care of yourself but also making sure your children are safe, provided for and happy.

A dangerous situation unfolded in the parking lot of Victoria's Wal-Mart store last Sunday afternoon. As they were walking through the parking lot, Caleb Grahmann and his mother, Tracy Pressler, of Cuero, heard a baby crying. When they found the baby, the 14-month-old girl was locked inside a car, her hair soaked with sweat. The mother and son called police, who was able to unlock the car and remove the baby. When the child's grandmother was found inside the store, the woman began crying and told the officer she had forgotten the baby was in the car.

This was a frightening experience for everyone involved and stirred up plenty of emotion and discussion on social media. Some of the comments encouraged caution, but many also expressed a harsh view toward the baby's grandmother for forgetting the child was in the car. We encourage our readers to refrain from passing judgement on this situation. It is easy to sit back and point at the faults of others from outside a situation, but by all appearances, this incident was a mistake that anyone could have made. The mistake was a serious one, but it was caught and dealt with before the situation became a tragedy. If there is any judgement to be done, it should be handled by officials once the case has been properly investigated.

We applaud Grahmann and Pressler for finding the baby and calling for help. Their quick thinking likely saved this child's life. Last year, at least 32 children died after being left in hot cars, according to the website safercar.gov. These deaths are tragic and completely preventable. When the temperature is 80 degrees outside, the inside of a vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes. Every year, temperatures soar well above 80 in South Texas, making it dangerous to play outside for too long, much less sit for even a few minutes in a car without air conditioning.

We encourage parents to always be aware of where their children are. It can be easy to get lost in the daily grind and forget that a sleeping or quiet child is in the backseat, so parents should take precautions to remind them.

Here are some tips for parents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "Where's Baby?" campaign: • Never leave children unattended in a vehicle, even with the motor running and air conditioner on.

• Teach your children not to play around an unattended vehicle. They could become trapped inside.

• Make a habit of looking inside the backseat of your vehicle before locking it and walking away.

• Find a way to remind yourself if your child is in the backseat by leaving a note on the dashboard or placing an item you need, such as your purse or briefcase, in the backseat.

• Keep a stuffed animal in the carseat. When the baby is in the seat, put the toy where you can see it.

If parents use these simple methods to remind themselves, it could prevent the death of a child. In addition, we encourage residents to always be aware of their surroundings. If you hear a baby crying in a parking lot, take the time to investigate and make sure the baby was not forgotten in the hot car. Helping to save a baby's life is more important than a few minutes of inconvenience or delay.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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