Field trip day! The children are excited! You, the child care provider? A bit nervous.

If you’ve ever chaperoned a field trip, I’m sure you can relate to this feeling. What if someone wonders off? What if a child gets hurt? How do you handle the inevitable “meltdowns” that will happen?

Many child care providers enjoy the wonder and amazement they watch their children experience during field trips, but these can also be very stressful times. Children can be quite unpredictable, and, let’s face it: there never seems to be enough adult chaperones to handle the chaos that can occur!

During the summer, these concerns are heightened by yet another uncontrollable force: the sun. Yes, the sun and its incredible heat! Here in the South, our days can easily reach over 90 degrees. In a parked vehicle, that temperature can quickly escalate, leading to potential hazardous situations.

After the recent tragedy in Georgia that made national headlines, perhaps many of you also saw the article circulating via social media sites about heatstroke and car deaths in children. Here’s an excerpt:

“What kind of person forgets a baby? The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.”

While none of us want to admit it, the truth is, something like this could happen to us. However, being aware of the hazards and conscious of our actions can prevent a potentially fatal error.

All licensed child care providers are required to follow Alabama’s Minimum Standard’s for Day Care Centers, which include regulations for transporting children. These regulations require checklists for loading and unloading children. As a parent, you have the right to ask about and view these checklists too!

Here are some great tips for child care providers from The Administration for Children and Families and The Office of Child Care:

* Always make a habit of looking in the vehicle—front and back—before locking the door and walking away.

* Get in touch with designated family members if a child who is regularly in your care does not arrive as expected.

* Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle. If he or she is in distress due to heat, get the child out as soon as possible and cool him or her down rapidly.

* Take Ray Ray’s voluntary pledge for providers and parents to make a commitment to working together to keep children safe.

In addition, visit the Safercars.gov website, which provides great prevention information that you can share with others. Together, we can all diligently prevent unnecessary vehicle deaths. Spread the word and educate others!

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