You would think it’s as easy as saying, “Don’t leave a child in a car.” Unfortunately, some parents and caretakers need more guidance than that. A rash of reports about children dying after being left unattended in hot cars have exposed some disturbing parental behavior. What needs to change? How can parents become more mindful of the needs and safety of their children?

Villanova University nursing professor Elizabeth Burgess Dowdell, PhD, RN, FAAN, is an expert in health risk behaviors and has offered safety guidelines for parents and adults to change their behavior in regards to child safety. She says, “From my experience there are two reasons a parent leaves a child in the car. First: they have the belief that they will be "just a few minutes" doing whatever it is outside of the car (running into the store, bank, friend's house, etc.). Second: the parent “forgets” the child is in the back seat due to adult distraction.”

Here, Dowdell offers tips to combat adult distraction:

• Leave your the cell phone in the car: Adults will spend less time outside of the car. • Plant a reminder: After putting a child into the back seat, place the diaper bag, back pack, child's lunch box, or toy in the front seat as a reminder that the child is still in the car. • Play music: Play child-friendly music (Disney tunes, rhymes, etc.). This type of music is playing is an auditory reminder that a child is still in the car.• Shop online & select in-store pickup: All items are available for pickup at once, minimizing time inside the store with a young child.

Dowdell is available to discuss these tips and more. If you’re interested in speaking with her, please contact me at [email protected] or 610-519-5152.