That’s the tip that resonates most in Keeping Kids Safe, a primer on how to handle and prevent common vehicle-related emergencies.
OnStar and Safe Kids Worldwide developed the free e-book with an eye toward parents sharing the information with their children, but I’d argue the advice is mandatory for all audiences, especially grown-ups and very especially grown-up motorists who could likely use a refresher on some of these automotive safety basics.
Well before it was the stuff of memes, tee-shirts, and coffee mugs, Keep Calm was my mantra. That and several other tips in the book are worth reinforcing with your kids even when you’re not around cars.
For instance: Making your kid not only memorize his key caregivers’ cell phone numbers, but ensuring he knows in what order to call them in case of an emergency.
I had that conversation with my son just the other day and more to his credit than mine, he already had all but one of the key cell numbers memorized. We made a game out of his learning the last number during our walk to school.
The e-book contains vehicle safety quizzes that you’re encouraged to have your kids take before and after reading the tips. When my teen skimmed the questions she claimed to have gotten all of them right.
And with her trademark sass she also remarked that she felt the advice – covering car crashes, car fires, being trapped in a hot car and car trunk, as well as a vehicle plunging into water – was somewhat obvious.
But as the e-book touches on more than once, learning what to do is one thing. Keeping calm and actually doing it is quite another.
And I’d also challenge my daughter and all other readers of the e-book – whether they think the advice in Keeping Kids Safe is obvious or not – to ask themselves whether they would step up and take action if they saw another child involved in a vehicular emergency, or in a potential emegency.
I’m thinking in particular of the passage in the e-book dealing with “Locked in a Hot Vehicle,” which notes that a “child’s body can heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s body” (honk if you didn’t know that, I sure didn’t) and urges parents to tell their kids “to be on the lookout for young kids left alone in closed hot cars during warmer months. If you see a child alone in a car, call 9-1-1.”
Here’s the big elephant in the room: If you and your child were walking back to your car in the supermarket parking lot and saw a kid left alone in hot car, would you wait around for a minute to see if that child’s caregiver was coming back to the car, or would you keep walking, comfortable enough with your faith in humanity to assume the kid would be okay?
The point is: If that happens, you really do have to wait around and make sure that the kid in the car is okay and you may have to make the uncomfortable decision of calling 9-1-1, uncomfortable given the likelihood that the guardian of the child in the car will likely be pissed and upset that you got him or her in trouble with the police.
You have to do these things when you’re with your kid because it’s the right thing to do and you need to model the behavior – including the part where you reinforce with your kid that potentially saving another child’s life is more important than the misplaced anger of a delinquent parent – if you want to increase the likelihood that your child will take action to keep another kid safe if you’re not around.
So, keep calm and read the e-book. And share it with your kids.
P.S. Tune into Twitter on Wednesday, July 8, 9ET for a chat on Keeping Kids Safe. You’ll pick up more tips and will get the chance to win one of two Emergency Kits with a $25 gift card. Track #KeepingKidsSafe to get in on the action.