Child sitting in a car seat within a vehicle with its mother reaching into the car and buckling the child.

Parents do everything they can think of to protect their children. They watch out for things that could be harmful to their child and do everything they can to baby proof the home that the child lives in. Not all parents think of the potential danger that their own parked car could hold.

It’s easy to think, “I would never lock my child in my car,” but accidents happen quicker than you realize. Most parents think that it would be a pretty rare incident to accidentally lock your child in a car, but it happens more often than people think. If you are ever in the situation where your child is accidentally locked in a car, don’t panic, simply resort to doing these things to get your child out safely.

1. Call 911 for help.

The first thing you should do is contact the police and fire department – they will be immediately dispatched to your location. If your phone is also locked in the car, quickly find someone nearby who will let you borrow theirs to call for help. Locking a child in a car is a serious emergency. Depending on the weather conditions, the child could experience hypothermia or a heat stroke within a matter of minutes.

A woman holding a phone to her ear with the number “911” dialed on the screen, ready to call.

2. Call an emergency locksmith.

Luckily,  an emergency locksmith will be on-call and is happy to drop everything to get to you. Many times they arrive before the police and fire department do, and are typically able to unlock the vehicle in less than a couple of minutes. Pop-A-Lock has developed a program to rescue children in locked vehicles at no charge. This service is available 24/7 at participating locations. The program emphasizes prevention over blame on any parties involved. You can read more about the history and benefits of this program on our website.

3. Block the sunlight.

If you have access to blankets or towels, either in your house or borrowed from anyone that is nearby, try and cover any windows that allow direct sunlight into the vehicle. This tip is crucial in the summer months since the inside of  a car can reach temperatures of mid-100s. Block as much sunlight from getting into the car to help keep the car as cool as possible until help arrives.

4. Stay calm.

The hardest part of locking a child in a car is to remain calm – whatever you do, do not panic. Panicking has the ability to cloud your judgment and cause you to have difficulty making decisions. Making sure you stay calm will also help to keep your child at ease. If the child sees that you are handling the situation in a relaxed manner, they’re more likely to remain calm themselves in the midst of this stressful situation.

5. Make a note of the time.

The first thing the police, fire department, or locksmith will want to know is how long has the child been locked in the vehicle. Not only is this a good thing to note in order to keep track of how hot or cold the inside of the car is getting, but it will also help determine when and if you should break a window. On certain occasions, it’s best to go ahead and break the window to ensure the child’s safety.

6. Don’t feel ashamed.

Locking a child in a car can invoke many emotions – it is really important to take time afterwards to process. It is so easy to beat yourself up and feel guilt or shame after the incident, but it is key to remind yourself that you’re only human. Mistakes happen and things like this happen more than you may realize. There are many professionals committed to helping you navigate this stressful situation and it is not an indication of your parenting skills. Once the dust settles, make sure you give your child a big hug and take a moment to reflect on how to prevent this from happening again.

How Can Pop-A-Lock Help?

Pop-A-Lock is committed to keeping you and your child safe – that’s why we created the PALSavesKids program. We developed this program to assist those who have accidentally locked children in cars. It is a 24/7 service available at participating locations that is completely free of charge. We understand that accidents happen, that’s why we wanted to offer the community a program on prevention and education versus blame. 

If you find yourself in need of locksmithing services, regardless of the reason, visit our site to request an appointment. We offer locksmithing services all day, every day – literally!