Shooting Spurs Conversation About Parking Lot Safety
Updated: Jun 28
Sometimes referred to as the wild-wild west of childhood safety, parking lots have been known to be unpredictable and dangerous places. In fact, 22% of school shootings occur in the parking lot. Thankfully, there are things that can be done to minimize the risk of dangerous events occurring in the parking lot. Staying vigilant when it comes to parking lot safety is of the utmost importance.
A recent shooting demonstrates the importance of practicing safe gun handling habits as well as increasing parking lot safety. A local off-duty sheriff left his 9-year-old and 5-year-old in his running vehicle when he went to drop off his 2-year-old daughter at her childcare center.
While the children were left unattended, they found one of the sheriff’s guns. The 9-year-old discharged the firearm into the parking lot, striking a daycare administrator’s parked car. Thankfully, nobody was injured or killed, but this close call begs us to examine our habits and adjust accordingly to make sure that safety is maximized. There are several lessons that we can take away from this incident.
Keep an Extra Set of Eyes and Ears on the Parking Lot
Engage parents when it comes to parking lot safety. Having them as an extra set of eyes and ears can go a long way. Do things look out of place? Are there people out of place? Are there people sitting in cars in the parking lot? In aggregate, these observations taken seriously can prevent a serious incident from occurring.
Do Not Leave Vehicle Running and Do Not Leave Children Unattended
There are a plethora of reasons why a person should not leave a child in a running car. Kids might shift the car into drive or reverse and cause an accident. Additionally, carjackings are on the rise. Running vehicles are easy targets for carjackings. In the unfortunate scenario where a carjacking occurs with a child in the back seat, the perpetrator, who most often wants the car and not the child, may drop the child off defenseless and far from home. In some instances, kids were left on the side of the road still strapped to their car seats. The most effective way to avoid situations like these is to remove children from the vehicle, no matter how short the stop is.
Lock Your Vehicle
Locking your vehicle prevents children from getting into the car during times that they are not supposed to be in there and it also prevents strangers from getting into the car during times that children are present in the car. This is also a very effective method of preventing deaths from hot cars, a terrible but extremely preventable tragedy.
Do Not Leave Children Unattended
Accidents happen when children are left out of the supervision of adults. Children can often be unpredictable and the best way to keep them safe is to supervise them. As tempting as it might be to “just run in real quick,” leaving a child on his or her own for a minute, it is best to keep the child within visual distance. Countless injuries and deaths can be prevented just by keeping an eye on the child.
Lock Up Firearms, Always
It is common sense to keep unsafe objects away from children. This can be said for candles, household chemicals, or uncovered outlets. Any deadly hazard should be carefully contained, and out of the reach of a child. In the U.S. 19 children a day are either killed or injured by firearms. Taking care to lock firearms away from children is a simple but essential step in ensuring our children’s safety.
We offer online courses that are 100% free that address this topic. Courses are available for both parents and childcare providers which give advice on things that we can do today to help prevent these needless tragedies.