It'll only take a moment — you just need to grab a quart of milk. It's a safe neighborhood and nice weather. Your two-year-old will be okay in the car for a minute, right?
Absolutely not. Never. Not for a minute, not under any circumstances. Even during mild weather, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly climb to temperatures that can cause life-threatening heat exhaustion in a small child. General Motors studied 175 cases of heat exhaustion in young children from 1996 through 2002 and found that all those children died after being left unattended in a parked car.
In some cases, the child had gotten into a car without supervision and didn't know how to get out, so it's just as dangerous to let youngsters play near parked cars. In other cases, the child was intentionally left behind during a quick errand or was forgotten and left behind accidentally.
The results can be devastating. A small child's body temperature can increase three to five times as fast as an adult's, possibly causing permanent organ damage. About 40 children die from heat-related illness each year in the United States after they're left unattended in parked cars.
You might think that this could never happen in a family like yours, but it does. These situations typically arise when parents or caregivers alter their daily routine, such as unexpectedly taking their child to day care on the way to work. In fact, some safety advocates recommend putting a stuffed animal or other soft toy on the passenger seat beside you as a reminder that you have a child passenger in the backseat, or placing your briefcase or purse in the backseat to avoid forgetting.