Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In light of a recent case – the 3 year old little girl who died of heatstroke in a car, innocently forgotten by her mother – I feel called for this post.

Things like this find a place close to my heart, because I can relate. One is because the child is just as little as mine, and another is because I am a mother myself.

And mostly because I am also a human being, just like the little girl’s mother.

And by being human we are prone to making mistakes. This brain of ours is also capable of glitches, things that we ourselves never thought that we could do. A brain that needs a nudge once in a while, when it is too intelligent it can get carried away with something called routine. A brain that at times is just too occupied with so many things, it sometimes fails us.

It happened that the mom is also a close friend of my friend, and let me just say this – everything that you heard or read in the medias are not necessarily 100% true.

Things got exaggerated, the poor little girl’s photo was distributed callously throughout social media and this leaves me with utter disgust.

The mom is blamed for her loss that I am sure was not intended for, openly scrutinized by people whom I am also not sure whether they are really concerned or just enjoy feeding off other people’s misery.

As a mom, here is only what I choose to do - I pray that her mother finds solace in her prayers and God gives her the strength to endure this trial. I do not worry about the girl, as she is in a perfect place one could ask to be, in the grace of Allah.

And I pray that mothers and parents like you and me are spared from such adversity, for if it happens to us, we do not even know whether we will turn out as strong. Nauzubillah.

Now, when bad things happen, we learn.

Instead of busy pointing fingers, let’s find ways to prevent it from happening again.

To be honest, accidentally forgetting about my child especially in the car is one of my worst nightmares. I can get paranoid when thinking about it, so I looked for help.

Apparently these things are not new. In countries as developed as the US, cases like these still happen. The difference is they have the awareness and they learn from it - which is why we should now start to build awareness in our own society, with hopes that someday this will never happen again.

From my readings, I have compiled 7 things to help us remember our child in the car. I hope this will help us make a difference.

How to avoid forgetting child in car

1) Put an indicator in your car to tell that your child is with you
If your child is at the backseat, put a stuffed toy or a diaper bag in the seat in front, beside you. Or, the other way is to put your own stuff that you carry with you (e.g handbag, makeup bag, employee badge, handphone) at the backseat together with your child. This way you will be reminded of your child when you look for these items.

2) Use a carseat!
Car seats ensures that your child is secured in one place, and does not go “hiding” anywhere else in the nook of the cars. I am a strong advocate of car seats (it has many benefits!) but remember to start them young!

3) Put a sticker or a hang a reminder in the car
On the reminder put questions that triggers you about your child’s whereabouts. Something like:
-    Mana adik? (Where is baby?)
-    Sudah hantar adik dan Kak Long? (Have you sent your children to daycare?)
-    Jangan lupakan saya, ibu! (Don’t forget me, Mommy!)
Be creative with this! Create a fancy sticker or ask your crafty friend/family to do it for you.

4) Set a reminder in your phone or at your desktop.
If you usually clock in at work at 9am, set your reminder to trigger at 9.10am, to ask you where your child is. Alternatively, stick a nice reminder at your desktop to get you thinking and rerun your activity from morning until you arrive at work.

5) Make a habit to ALWAYS peek into the car before you leave it.
Make sure that all is clear before you walk away. Try to do it every single time and Insya Allah it will become part of your routine.

6) Stay in touch with your child’s caregiver
Ask your caregiver to contact you if your child does not arrive at the day care as usual.

7) Spread the word and build awareness.
Discuss about this issue openly with your family and friends. Make them aware about the dangers and build a culture of taking care of each other. If you happen to see a child wandering around alone or left in a car and you feel that something is wrong, then chances is you are right!  Things like this permits “kepochi” right? Right!

If you want to read more, here are some resources that shares a lot about child safety and awareness (I wrote this post based on the information from these sites):

Safe steps to avoid forgetting kids in cars
Look before you lock kids in hot cars
Forgetting your child in the card could kill: 10 tips to remember
Forget Me Not (US)
Kids and Cars 

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you think Malaysians needs more awareness on child safety? Any other tips that you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment!

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