Accidentally leaving your baby in the backseat of your car is a parents’ worst nightmare.
For most of us, it’s just that: a really bad nightmare. But the reality is that it does happen.
Are alarmed car seats the answer?
After several cases of small children being left in cars, also known as ‘forgotten baby syndrome’, Italy has introduced a new law requiring parents to have special alarmed car seats. The seats should have both visual and audio signals that can be seen inside and outside of the car, reports The Telegraph.
Under the new law, car seat alarms are now compulsory for all children under the age of four.
Parents must buy either a new car seat, which is said to cost around €100 ($160) or purchase an alarm attachment. The new seats have a motion sensor that triggers an alarm and flashing lights if a child is left alone in the car. A notification can also be sent to a mobile phone.
Failing to get a new alarm will see parents face fines up to €326 ($523) and five points being docked from their driving licence. A second offence within two years will see the driver’s license suspended for two weeks.
“It can happen to anyone”
In Australia, Kidsafe reports that more than 5,000 children are rescued after being left unattended in a car every year.
Speaking to News.com.au earlier this year, mum Sara Murphy said she had no idea that she had left her 11-month-old daughter in the car while doing school pick up.
It wasn’t until she headed back to the car that she realised.
“I saw her smiling through the window and waving at her brother – the air just rushed out of my lungs,” she said.
While Sarah was lucky it was a cool day and she was in the school for 10 minutes, she said it can happen to anyone.
“Nobody likes to think it can happen to them,” said Sarah. “But it can happen to anyone. It just takes a moment of distraction.”
Are new laws the answer?
Introducing new laws in Australia similar to those in Italy could be the answer but as the weather heats up, there are a few ways parents can protect themselves and their children, starting today.
She says to leave your purse or handbag in the back seat, asking daycare to call you if you haven’t arrived, or just making a habit of checking the back seat before you lock your car.
“The biggest mistake that parents make is they really feel this can’t ever happen to them.”