'No one could hear him': Mum's warning about older children and hot cars

 Photo: Instagram: @pepper44

We're constantly hearing stories about babies and young children being left in hot cars – and by now we should know how incredibly dangerous that can be. But what about older children?

Once my children were old enough to unbuckle their seatbelts, I've always just assumed they'd be fine. And while I wouldn't leave them in a hot car in a carpark on their own, what happened to this mum could happen to anyone.

Amy Amos shared on her blog Half Heard in the Stillness an alarming story that she hopes will serve as a warning to busy mums everywhere.

The incident showed Amy that her four-year-old son couldn't open their family car doors on his own, and he panicked.

"We had gone to the pool," wrote Amy. "When we got home I made sure he was unbuckled from his car seat, and his car door was wide open. We have a Toyota Highlander, just FYI."

"I was carrying in wet towels and swim trunks, my wallet, keys, the camera, a lens that I was worried about dropping, *and* I'm pregnant with twins and had to pee.

"He often walks inside slowly, stopping to look at random crumbs in the carseat or ants on the ground. Our neighbourhood is relatively safe, he knows not to wander off, he knows how to open the front door by himself. My older kids were also walking inside, he wasn't even alone.

"About ten minutes after I'd come in the house I realised I hadn't heard his voice."

We all know that panicky feeling, when we suddenly realise we have no idea where our child is. It's happened to all of us. But for it to happen at home is unusual.


"We started looking for him – maybe he was in the bathroom pooping," wrote Amy. "Or sometimes he will grab the iPad and sit down quietly.

"He wasn't in the house anywhere.

"He was in the car."

Amy then goes on to describe the distressing moment she found her son distressed and trapped in the family car.

"The doors were shut, he was sweating and sobbing with his face pressed against the window.

"Ten minutes while we were distracted, and he was trapped in the car."

Amy had assumed her son had followed her other kids into the house, not realising that her "big, strong, very smart" boy couldn't work the door handles on his own.

Amy says her son was lying on the floor of the car looking for his shoe when everyone else went inside. With the car looking empty, his siblings assumed he had already gone inside, so they closed the door.

"He couldn't get the car doors open, so he panicked and cried. No one could hear him," wrote Amy.

"I'm sure you all are like me – you think you would never forget your kid in a hot car. But what if your kid gets trapped in a hot car by accident? Why is this not something we talk about? Why isn't it a thing we teach our kids, like we do with fire drills?"

Amy said she plans on practising with her son how to open the car door on his own, how to unbuckle his seatbelt, and how to honk the horn until someone comes to help if he needs it. All of which sound like a great idea for all of us to do with our pre-school-age children.

"It's not a thing I've ever heard of or thought of," Amy wrote. "Please take ten minutes of your day and be sure your kids at least know how to push the buttons and honk the horn if they accidentally get in the car alone, and have them practise opening the doors from the inside if they're strong enough.

"Remind your friends with small children to do the same. You never know, they could get into the car when you least expect it. Knowing how to get out might save their lives."