Victorian parents are being warned to always look in the backseat before locking the car to avoid accidentally leaving children behind, as the weather heats up again this week.
Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos today announced the Andrews Labor Governments successful Look Before You Lock campaign will run again with warnings to prevent unintentional and deadly memory lapses.
The Australian first campaign, which ran for the first time in Victoria last year, raises awareness about a phenomenon known as fatal distraction – accidentally leaving children in the car.
No parent is immune from memory failure, and they can be more at risk when they’re stressed, exhausted or their routine has changed. These memory failures can cause serious injury or in some cases, death.
Research has shown that human short-term memories can only hold six to eight things at one time. When our brains multitask, they don’t distinguish between priorities and their awareness of a child can vanish.
Accidentally leaving children behind is not a case of negligence. It’s a tragic mistake anyone can make – but with vigilance and the right habits, we can prevent fatal distraction.
Tips for parents:
- Always look in the back seat before you lock the car
- Leave your phone, wallet or handbag in the backseat every time you’re in the car
- Keep an object, such as a stuffed toy, in the car seat and move it to the front seat after buckling in your child
- Ask your childcare centre to call you if your child doesn’t arrive on time for childcare
- Set reminders on your phone to check with your partner to make sure they have dropped off the child.
Fact sheets on short-term memory failure with advice on how parents and carers can minimise the risk of fatal distraction have been sent to Maternal and Child Health Services and kindergartens across Victoria.
The Labor Government’s Look Before You Lock campaign also includes radio and online advertising, billboards on buses and promotion on social media.
For more information about creating a safer routine, go to education.vic.gov.au/looklock.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos
“Leaving children in a car – especially on a hot day – can be deadly. A simple memory lapse by parents and carers can lead to tragedy.”
“This campaign is about preventing heartbreaking deaths. The typical human memory is flawed – loving and attentive parents can be overwhelmed with the many demands placed on them.”
“Stress and fatigue may cause busy parents to have a memory lapse. Make looking in the backseat an everyday driving habit – just like putting on your seatbelt.”