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Check the back seat for Me

My story

It was a night like any other, my children were in bed, I had finished my jobs for the night and I was sitting watching the late news. A story came on about the latest child dying in a hot car and at that moment something came over me. That was the moment I decided to create Check the back seat for me. I was overwhelmed by sadness for these parents that somehow ‘forgot’ their child was in the car and continued on with the day resulting in vehicular heat stroke and death. That was 8:30 at night, by 4:30 the next morning I had designed the products, researched statistics and I was determined to start a movement to stop these kids from dying. Like most people reading this article I too find it incredibly hard to believe that this could happen but it is happening and we must do something to prevent it or at least reduce the occurrence.

Our days are hectic, consisting of work, planning healthy meals and running the kids to all their activities. Some days it’s nonstop and can be overwhelming, we have all felt overwhelmed.

It’s not easy to admit this but by sharing this story I may be able to save children’s lives. It was a morning when my eldest son was 2 years old and my youngest was under a month old. My youngest had silent reflux for the first few months of his life and my eldest was teething. I had not slept well the night before and I was so rushed in the morning I had forgot to have breakfast, I think I was running on autopilot.

That day it took me more than an hour to get the boys into the car, with the youngest doing a number 3 right before we walked out the front door and my eldest was in a terrible mood, all three of us were. I put both children into the car and once arriving at a shopping centre took my 2 year old out of the car. My plan was to put him into the pram and put the baby in one of those pouches you strap to yourself. My 2 year old became very difficult and didn’t want to be buckled into his pram, it took several minutes to get him in, and he was struggling against me. It was hard work and I was already exhausted from the night before. All I wanted to do was get into the shops get the shopping done and get home. To add to this another car was parking in the next parking bay and was coming very close to us, I wanted to get out of there quick.

I pushed lock on the car remote and headed to the shopping centre entrance. I walked about 20 metres and as those auto doors began to slide open it clicked, I remembered the baby and we raced back to get him. I was shaking even though we had only travelled 20 metres. All the “what ifs” went through my head. It was a warm summer morning too, what if what if what if. I’m not a forgetful kind of person, my boys would tell you I am a pretty good mother and if you asked I would have said ‘No that would never happen to me”.

That was the first and only time but it could have ended in tragedy, I never forgot it and if I was wearing a Check the back seat for me Wristband or had the Heart Reminder Keyring on my car keys it wouldn’t have happened at all.

Ive learnt a lot since I started Check the back seat for me. For instance On a hot day a car can go from 30 degrees to 70 degrees within 5-10 minutes.

The NSW department of Community services created a document for the summer school holidays of 2011 and 2012. It states several interesting points and they are:
On a normal Australian summer day a parked car can be as much as 30-40 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. For example on a 30 degree day the temperature of inside the car can be as much as 70 degrees. If like me you attended school in Australia you would remember the 40 degree days where we felt like we were dying and the teachers would allow us to lie on the cool line to try to cool our little bodies down. I can’t even imagine what 70 degrees is like.

The document goes on to tell us that as the temperature rises children begin to develop heat stress (hyperthermia) and also to dehydrate. What can following the dehydration is seizures, stroke and ultimately death.

Children may also become distressed and try to get out of their restraint. If the harness on the restraint is loose, children are at risk of strangulation on the harness. So much can go wrong, its chilling to think about.
We can put a stop to this and the first and most important step is accepting that this could possibly happen to your family or a friends family. It’s a sensitive topic and it’s hard to stomach but it’s been proven that saying “this would never happen to me” does not prevent it from happening.

In Australia during the summer of 2014 the NRMA rescued 20% more children from hot cars than the summer of 2013. Our lives are busier than they ever have been before, there is so much required from us, both parents need to work to afford the rent or mortgage, we are often overwhelmed.

A recent case in Victoria saw a mother drive to the daycare centre to collect her child that she allegedly believed to have dropped her 22 month old son off at that morning. Upon entering the centre they made it clear to her that she in fact had NOT dropped the child off and when she returned to her car she found her son in the back seat. He had passed away. It’s alleged the mother had taken her other child to primary school and had gone about her daily chores not realizing she actually hadn’t dropped the toddler at daycare. Her boy had been left in the car and had died. I am 100 percent sure she didn’t do this on purpose (she was unable to be interviewed for several days after this happened) she simply forgot. Maybe she was stressed, maybe she was on autopilot, and maybe there were dramas in her life that had distracted her so much that it caused this to occur. I not suggesting I know this woman and how she thinks but I bet that if you spoke to her a year ago she may say that such a terrible accident could never happen to her.

I could go on with stories and statistics but Im sure you are understanding that this is happening a lot more than what we thought and the heat changes occur a lot faster than most of us thought too.

When an accident or death occurs in the work place there are then procedures and policies put into place to prevent these accidents from happening again.
Up until I created this product there was nothing available that looks great, is cheap, accessible to everyone and you don’t need expensive fancy equipment to make it work.

Now your Check the back seat for me safety pack is here, it’s available to everyone and affordable. What if this pack was the difference between life and death in your family? It’s a simple solution to a devastating accident that is happening more and more often in each passing year.

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Our mission at Check the back seat for me is to prevent or at least dramatically reduce the amount of child deaths in hot cars. I want this product to go Australia wide then worldwide so we can start saving children’s lives now!

So how are these deaths happening?

Well as you saw in the above story, I didn’t have much sleep the night before, I hadn’t had breakfast, my eldest was being very difficult and I was distracted by another car parking too close to my vehicle.

There are other situations that lead up to children being forgotten in vehicles.

A different parent/carer is asked to take a child in their vehicle when they usually don’t can result in the driver going onto autopilot, forgetting they have a child in the back of the car and continuing on to work as usual.
How many times have you arrived at a destination and not really been able to recall every part of the journey. Its not intentional, its an accident and without safety procedures in place, it IS happening. This product can help prevent this from happening to you.

One parent may believe that the other parent has taken the child inside after an outing, both parents are busy getting on with unpacking or juggling the other children. 5-10 passes and it can be too late.

So you are probably wonder how to use our pack and is it easy to use? Well read on and you will see what a simple, easy, life saving solution it is.

The idea is to leave the pack in the child seat, then place into the drivers seat to remind you to use an item from the pack.

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After securing child with seatbelt return to your driver’s seat, choose the item you want to use and place it in the suggested locations inside same vehicle, as long as it is safe to do so. Easy!

The reason why there are five choices in the pack is that we recommend you use a different item each time so it stands out and your brain continue to notice it.

The Herald Sun recently reported that The State Government has promised to increase penalties for leaving children in hot cars, with fines up to $3700 and jail time increased from three months to six months. This is a step forward but I believe my product is a practical lifesaving alternative that can work right now. Whats the point in fining someone if they have already lost a child. Who knows, maybe I have already been able to save lives by having my Check the back seat for me Facebook page.

Dads, if you want to earn brownie points this would be a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift (from the kids) showing you are proactive in helping to prevent this devastating accident happening to your family.
Simply purchase the pack, leave a few of the items in each car and pull them out when routines change or when you are having ‘one of those days’. It’s also suggested that the Rear View Mirror Heart Reminder can remain on the mirror and as it swings it reminds.

Where to buy

To purchase your pack go to www.checkthebackseatforme.com.au or go onto our facebook page Check the back seat for me ‘like’ and click on Shop Now in the large picture at the top of the page. In the first week we sold over 70 packs and feedback is telling us that our pack is being purchased by one parent and being shared between all the cars in the family. Priced at $22.95 (including postage and handling) how can you go past this cheap and simple solution.

Written by Penny Arnold, Founder, Check the back seat for me.

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