Sometimes It’s OK to Leave the Kids in the Car


We’ve all heard about children dying because they were left in a hot car and it is terrible.  Most of the time it is an infant and the parents forgot about the child.  These are deaths that could have been prevented.  However, there are some times that it is OK to leave your kids in the car for a short time.  There is a big difference in leaving an 8-year-old in a car, with the AC on, while reading a comic book for 15 minutes and leaving an 18 month-old in a car, without an AC, all day long.

Recently, a friend of mine left her 8-year-old in the car, with the AC on while she ran into the store to grab a few groceries for the next day.  This happened in Georgia and the temps right now are between 70 and 80 degrees during the day.  Her son really did not want to go in and he was happy hanging out and reading.  She was gone for about 15 minutes and when she returned a man approached her. He asked her if this was her car, yes – that’s why she’s putting bags in it.  He said he was an off duty police officer and he had called the police to come. Why? Because she had left her child, alone in a car.

The police arrived and ran her license.  No one would answer her when she asked what the law was. She never received a clear definition of what was and wasn’t the legal thing to do regarding children and cars.  She is an ER nurse. She is a mother of five. Guess what, the oldest has made it to 15! She isn’t a bad mother, she would never put her children in harm’s way. This was a nosy man taking things too far.

The police told her nothing except, “Have a nice day.” They never answered the question about legal age and length of time left in a car. The odd thing is that she is an ER nurse who knows two of the police who came to this call.  She even asked them what the point was and they had no answer for her.

After she went home and started processing the situation she had a few questions: Can an off-duty police officer detain a citizen? What age is it OK to leave a child in a running car with the air on? What good did this incident do anyone?

What do you think? Do you leave older kids in the car, alone, while you run in the store?


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