Jun 4, 2013

A Precautionary Tale

Well, I am still shaking over what happened to Miss Priss and I this early evening.  We were about to head home after a late afternoon at the local pool.  I was a bit annoyed, because Miss Priss decided to walk/fall back into the baby pool, right after I got her into a clean, dry dress and diaper.
I stripped off her wet dress and shoes, threw them in my unwieldy canvas pool bag, and headed to the car.  I unlocked the doors, stuck my bag and keys in the front seat, then loaded Miss Priss into her middle rear seat.  When I shut her door, I heard the click and beep that signals the locking of the doors. Unbelieving, I pulled on all the doors, frantically trying to open one, while the baby stared at me bemusedly.

I frantically shouted at a stranger walking out with her children, asking if I could use her phone.  She did not have one on her, and looked rather confused until I gasped out what just happened, and explained my phone was in the car.  Luckily, my friend walked out right at that moment.  I borrowed her cell phone and called the car dealership to bring me my spare, as they had possession of it.  They said they would be on their way immediately.

Then I thought about the best-case-15-minute drive that would most likely be 30 minutes in traffic from the dealership to the pool.  I called Pop-A-Lock, on the stranger lady's advice.  Their wait was an hour.  They said to call 911.  Luckily a friend who is a doctor rolled up at that moment, and instructed me to do the same.  I took the advice.

I paced and watched Miss Priss grow increasingly hot, while my panic grew in equal measure.  The presence of the doctor friend reassured me enormously (even though he is a gynecological oncologist) . He conferred with another man on breaking windows with hammers, and the other man fetched ice and the lifeguard for when the fire department arrived and got her out.

At this point I have a rather large contingent of friends around me, which was soooo wonderful.  I tried to remain calm, and not recall all the horror stories I've heard about this very thing.  Other moms shared stories about the same thing happening to them.  We counted my good fortune that I was at a crowded pool with lots of friends and help, and the fact that Miss Priss was sopping wet to help keep her body temperature down.  I have no idea what the temperature in the car was, but I am sure it was close to triple digits if not higher.

After about 10 minutes (the road where the pool lies is closed and they had a tough time getting there), the fire truck arrived.  At this point, I realized what a scene I had created.  Firetruck pulls up in the presence of a large group of children?  All eyes on you for sure!  Anyway, the firemen used their tool to crack the window (at which point I could take a breath), then unlock the car.  I jumped from the front seat to the back, and yanked my sobbing, hot, sweating child out of the car.  Thanking the firemen, the doctor and I hurried back to the baby pool, where we sat, and rubbed ice on my bawling child.  Popsicles were delivered by other friends, much to her delight.  She gradually cooled down to a normal body temperature, and with the lifeguard and doctor's blessing, and ventured back to the car to go home.

I must admit, I was downright terrified to put her back in the car.  I was relatively calm the whole time, but I am still shaking now that it is over.  I wanted to share this with y'all, especially since it had a happy ending.  I still don't know how the doors locked- if something in my bag hit the keys, computer malfunction, or some other unlucky stroke.

So here is what I should have done, and will do in the future.

1.  Keep my windows cracked whenever I leave my car.  This would have solved a lot of the immediacy of the issue, and she would not be trapped in a sauna with limited supply of oxygen.

2.  Keep my keys in my pocket (which I never have) or place them on the roof (which is my normal routine).

3.  Keep a couple spares in very close locations including ones other than my house (which was locked up, with an out of town husband).

4.  Before calling Triple A, a locksmith, or anything else that will take longer than 7 minutes, call 911.  The firemen were amazing, and there in a jiffy.  Since they have emergency training, it is a lot better to have a fireman unlock your hot child, than a Pop-A-lock guy.  No offense to locksmiths of any kind, but 911 will be my first call if this ever happens again.

Here is a terrifying/helpful article that details other ways to prevent car heatstroke- it is most likely when the child is asleep and forgotten in the backseat.

Now, I am off to drink a glass (or eight) of wine, calm down, and prep for 15 kindergarteners and VBS in the morning!  At least I will have no time to dwell on scary situations in the past tomorrow!


  1. Oh honey, my heart just seized up reading this!!! I am so thankful you got help quickly and that Miss Priss is A OK. You hear the tragic end of this tale all too often. There's a whole Slate article going around Twitter and Facebook today about "how to recognize signs of drowning" but this is an equally important summer reminder - cars get hot, so make sure you have your keys in hand. Truly, thank you for sharing. (And more popsicles for DH!) xo

  2. It must have been terrifying!! I want to just hug you both!!

    Don't feel too bad--I've done this too, in the same exact way. Put my diaper bag with the keys in it in the front seat, shut the door and proceed to strap Owen into his car seat in the back. When I was done I shut that door and heard the beep, beep, beep CLICK!

    I just gasped and froze. Almost couldn't believe what had just happened. Luckily we were parked in the driveway and our neighbors came to help.

    What car do you drive? I had an Audi A4 at the time and I blame the car!

  3. Oh Samma!! How terrifying!! My Jetta used to automatically lock, too, for some wacky reason. I am so glad that DH is okay, that you had people there to help you and stand by you, and that the firemen arrived so quickly. I think these things could happen to anyone and you're wise to share your story to help other moms.

  4. Oh, my, this literally made my heart stop. I can't imagine.
    SO glad things turned out OK.

  5. You poor girls! You must have been so scared. I bet this happens all the time for just the reasons you mentioned - heavy bags, busy toddlers = there just aren't enough hands for everything! Your tips are so helpful and this is such a great reminder. I'm so glad everything turned out okay. Hope that glass of wine helped your poor frazzled nerves. xo

  6. Oh my goodness!! My heart dropped when I read the terrifying experience you & your sweet girl went through!! It's so scary how quickly these things can happen. I'm so glad y'all are ok!! Thank you for sharing your story to help so many other parents out there!

  7. Oh Sweets. I am so glad that you guys are ok.How scary. I am also thankful for sharing this story with me just so that I can be more careful and so I know what to do when this happens to me.

  8. Oh my word! I am glad the DH is okay! You seemed to have kept calm which I am sure helped DH keep calm too! PHEWWW!!!!!!
    Were you at Cherokee?

  9. Oh my goodness so so scary!!! I feel panicked just reading this! I always throw my keys on top of the car too but now I will make extra sure that I always have them near me. So glad everything turned out the way it did! Thank you for sharing!

  10. bless your heart Samma!!! so glad DH is OK though, and i am so glad you shared this story...this could happen to any of us when we are trying to get in and out of the car quickly and i'm thankful for the tips on what to do, too!! OXOX

  11. Oh my gosh! I am so glad she is okay! And that you had people there with you. It must have been terrifying, Huge hugs.

  12. That is one of my worst fears! I am so glad she's okay! Thanks for sharing this story.

  13. Oh my- how horrific. So glad the guardian angels were with you. I am always so afraid my car will lock with the baby inside. Thanks for sharing. We all need reminders to be extra diligent!!

  14. SO scary! I live in constant fear of this happening because I've gotten into a nasty habit of dropping my keys into the rear passenger door catch-all while I strap L into the car seat... then I'll shut that door and realize I don't have my keys in my hands as I'm walking around to the driver's door.

    I am so glad you were surrounded by friends and that the fire department was so quick to respond! I think you deserve wine AND one of those popsicles!

  15. Yes - the firemen will come right away when you tell them your child is locked on the car! I did it in the mall parking lot on our way home for bed - luckily it was February so not hot. Nonetheless, panic set in and I flagged down the mall security and he had te firemen there in no time. My child never realized he was strapped down and mommy couldn't get in :)

  16. Hi there, I randomly found your blog through 5onF on saw this. This happened to me too once with a little girl that I babysit for. I strapped her into her carseat (not realizing that she was playing with the locks prior to me strapping her in) and when I went to the other side I noticed the car was locked - and my keys were staring at me from the center console. Needless to say I was scared out of my mind and I also called my friend for a spare. After realizing how much time that would take in San Diego traffic I decided to call 911. Best decision. They came in under 5 minutes and popped that lock right away. I feel your pain and your terror. You're not alone! Glad your story had a happy ending.

  17. I'm so glad that you posted this because I could see this easily happening to many moms including myself. I'm sorry that it happened to you and DH. I would had never thought to call 911. I'm going to get a spare key this week!

  18. One of my favorite things about our car is that it's IMPOSSIBLE to lock the keys inside it! I've nearly panicked a dozen times because what you did is very much something I would do... only now I can't. Brilliant!


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