This post originally appeared on Nanny Magazine, October 5, 2017.
It happened. In the blink of an eye, it happened. My two-year-old NK locked his baby sister in the car! It was unexpected and I couldn’t believe it happened. We were at a
grocery store, leaving to head home for naps, and he wanted to hold my keys to help. I put the baby in the car and shut the door. Then, we walked around to the other side of car, but the car door wouldn’t open. My heart immediately sank. When I discovered the door wouldn’t open, I asked him calmly about my keys and he told me in his sweet, little kid voice, “I help you,” and I knew in that instant, I needed to get ACTUAL help, right away! It hit me that in his effort to help me, in our excitement chatting about a video we were going to make for his parents when we got home, that he had put the keys in the car for me. He must have pushed the button to lock the doors when he set them inside, and I didn’t hear it. I knew I needed to act fast!
Within seconds of realizing he had locked her in the car, I realized that my cell phone was also in the car. I knew I needed to remain calm. I saw someone in their car chatting on their phone, so I walked over and asked them if I could use it to call 911. The man was super nice and handed the phone right over. I stayed calm, spoke to the operator, and within seven minutes both the police and fire department had arrived. It was a very warm day and my only concern was for the baby locked inside of the hot car. I didn’t care what my employers would think about the situation, or about the cost of fixing my vehicle; my only thought was for her safety. The firemen were very nice and offered me two options: call someone to come unlock the door (which would take 10-20 minutes), or break the window. I wanted to scream, “Just break it and get that baby out!” but I knew for my NK’s sake and for my nanny baby, I needed to stay as calm as possible. I told them to please break the window, as her safety was paramount. Within 10 minutes of being locked in the car, she was out safe and sound.
What a rush! I was so grateful to the fire department for getting her out so quickly. Once home, I made sure to call one of the parents to let them know what happened, as I felt it was important to tell them as soon as I could. Luckily, they also felt I had handled the situation correctly. What a relief! They even offered to pay for the window, which again, in that moment, I didn’t care about. I just cared about getting her out quickly and safely. But, having the support of my nanny bosses really helped in the aftermath.
After this happened, I knew I wanted to share my experience. This was an accident. This didn’t happen because I was neglectful or a “bad nanny.” It was something you can’t plan for or expect to happen, which is why we call it an accident to begin with. It definitely doesn’t make me less of a nanny; in fact, I feel even more confident in my role now because I know, in an emergency, I can keep my cool, stay calm, and do what needs to be done to ensure the safety of my nanny kids.
- Make sure you keep a signed medical permission form for each child (this emergency reminded me that I only have one for my older NK and I needed to have the parents sign another one for the new baby). I keep one copy in my diaper bag and another in my wallet, just in case.
- I keep a stocked first aid kit in my car at all times and a small first aid kit in my diaper bag; I also keep one or two band-aids in my wallet.
- Sometimes my employers don’t answer the phone when I call; it’s important to know their office numbers or a back-up person to call, so that you can reach a parent ASAP in an emergency. It’s also beneficial to keep a written record of all important phone numbers (parents’ work, grandparents or other relatives, neighbors, pediatrician, etc.) in your wallet or diaper bag, just in case something happens to your cell phone and you can’t access an emergency contact.
Accidents are going to happen, but we can take steps now to ensure that when it happens, we know we can handle it. I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t a fun experience, especially having to call a parent and tell them what happened, but as a nanny, it’s my responsibility to keep my little ones safe and I strive to do that every single day. While I hope that we don’t have another accident or emergency anytime soon, I know that if something does happen, I have the ability to stay calm and be the best nanny I can be for my charges and their parents.
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