Is the Convenience Worth the Risk?

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Leaving Your Child Unattended in the Car

Do you choose convenience over safety and responsibility, or the other way around? For example, when you have your 4 year old child with you and you need to run into the store to pick up toilet paper on the way home, would you consider leaving your child alone in the parked car? You’d only run into the store for 5 minutes. You are thinking that if you have to bring them, you would certainly be slowed down because they can get fussy.

If you do consider the more convenient idea of leaving your child alone in the car for a few minutes, you should think again. Not only is this an irresponsible decision, it would be an illegal one.


In California, it is illegal to leave a child 6 years old or younger in the car unattended unless they are supervised by someone who is at least 12 years old.


Moreover, even if your child is old enough by law to be left alone in the car, do you think they are ready, responsible, and mature enough? Can they be trusted not to open the door if a stranger approaches, or not to just get out and wander on their own? Are they nervous about being left alone, because they have not had that experience before?

Another factor to take into consideration is the weather outside. If it is hot outside, then the inside of the car can be deadly. The interior of a car can heat up rapidly. Young children can die if they are left in a hot car.

The same rules apply to leaving pets alone in a car as well. If the store does not allow you to bring your pet in while you shop, you need to leave them in the car. If it is hot outside, open some windows or better yet, if possible, tie them to a meter, bike rack, or something outside that offers plenty of shade.

There are penalties for parents who leave their child unattended in the car, which include a fine and time in jail. Plus, there is the possibility that your child could be harmed. That is the worst one of all. So next time, skip the convenience and go with the safe, responsible decision. Even if it is less convenient and time efficient for you. Instead of leaving your child in the car, bring them with you, or take them home first.