The Importance of Parking Lot Safety with Toddlers


The Importance of Parking Lot Safety With Toddlers - Columbia SC Moms Blog

“I’ve heard it happened but never imagined the possibility that it could’ve been me until today.”

Today was a very exciting day. Our oldest daughter, Corinne, participated in her 1st Breast Cancer Awareness Fashion Show in honor and support of my aunt, who is a 14-year survivor of Breast Cancer.

During the show I stepped out to change my 6 month old Collin. As we walked outside and I began to look for the car (my husband, Curtis, and I drove separate vehicles), my 2 year old Caleb helped and directed me to where it was parked. It was right at the front of the parking lot closest to the street.

The protector in me asked, “why did my husband park so close to the street, this is a safety hazard?” But I made sure Caleb stayed nearby and proceeded with changing Collin.

Once we were back inside the church I was no longer thinking about where the car was parked. Also if you are a wife like me, you try your best to allow your husband to parent in his own way without a lecture on how you do things.

Back inside, the fashion show was a success. We fellowshipped, got a full belly and now it was time to go home. As I was placing my belongings into the car, out of no where I hear my husband scream our son’s name “CALEB”! I look up and Curtis was running across the street to rescue Caleb before a car came, which followed seconds after they made it back over. My heart was racing and in my transparency, I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or chastise Caleb, but one thing was for sure I needed to love on him and I needed to give God praise!

In that moment I realized how much I love my son and how grateful I was for God’s protection and covering over our children. I know the situation could have resulted in a different outcome. I gently spoke to Caleb about the dangers of running in the street and parking lot, and instead of harping on my husband, we discussed parking lot safety. We also discussed how we could have prevented the almost traumatic situation that we experienced from happening in the future.

As I write this blog, I can still feel the rush of fear that came over me. I cannot imagine the level of guilt I would have if it was not for my husband grabbing Caleb in time and God’s protection.

Because I know no parents are perfect, and managing toddlers (especially several of them) requires developing and finding new techniques, I’ve included several parking lot safety tips below that you can implement when you are out and about with your little ones. One of the lessons I learned today is to keep your children close and in sight at all times. Taking risks aren’t worth experiencing a regretful outcome. I personally would rather be overprotective with my children any day than complacent and full of guilt!

Even the famous aren't immune. Kourtney Kardashian calling for her daughter as she took off in the parking lot much like my son did. Columbia SC Moms Blog
Even the famous aren’t immune. Kourtney Kardashian calling for her daughter as she took off in the parking lot much like my son did.

Parking Lot Safety Tips

Discuss and develop a plan. It’s imperative that you and your significant other with come up with a parking lot safety plan for your family. Initially, my husband and I had two different views of what was okay and not okay for our kids to do in the parking lot (such as at what age they could walk hands-free).

Keep your children in your sight and close to you. I recommend holding your children’s hands and have them hold each others. As Melissa Maypole shared on Everyday Family, “make sure your child remains with you at all times. This sounds simple, but as parents, we all know how easy it is to become distracted, and within seconds, our child is out of reach. Therefore, whenever you enter a parking lot, it is imperative to put away your cell phone, shopping list, or whatever it is that may take your eyes off of your child, even for a minute.

Use a stroller. According to, toddlers (1 and 2 years of age) sustain the highest number of pedestrian injuries. This is due to their small size and limited experience. It is unrealistic to assume that your toddler will perfectly comply with your rules all of the time. Even the most well behaved youngster may forget himself and suddenly sprint off. If you cannot keep a firm grip on your child’s hand while in a parking lot, play it safe and buckle him into the stroller. (Everyday Family-Parking Lot Safety)

Parking Lot Safety - Columbia SC Moms Blog
Holding your young child’s hand in a parking lot helps reduce the risk of them running off.

Use child-safety gadgets. While many parents may steer away from child leashes, these provide a great purpose and allow you to keep your child(ren) close by. You could also have your child hold onto the stroller if you don’t have a double one.

Place your older children in the vehicle first. If you have a baby that is still in a carrier car seat, secure your older children in their seats first. You don’t have to buckle them in right away, but putting them in the car immediately places them out of harms way.

Have a conversation with your children. Discuss with them parking lot safety and the importance of not running in the street. suggests teaching your child that parked vehicles may move. It also recommends reminding children that even though they can see a vehicle, the driver may not see them. Thousands of children are seriously injured or die yearly because a driver simply didn’t see them while backing up. You also need to teach your child the dangers of running off, such as the possibility of being abducted or getting lost. While we do not want to frighten our kids unnecessarily, they do need to be aware of the potential dangers in the world. Talk to your child in an age-appropriate way about the importance of sticking close to you. (Everyday Family-Parking Lot Safety)

Watch for Other People’s Children. Although you may always keep a close eye on your youngster in parking lots, don’t assume everyone else does the same. Before getting into your vehicle, recommends walking around and behind the vehicle, prior to moving. Also, keep a careful eye out for children as you back out and maneuver through the parking lot.

Additional Reminders. There are several devices and gadgets available that are designed to help keep little ones safe in parking areas. Many cars now come equipped with rear-view cameras and sensors, which let you know when you are close to an object (or person). These devices are good, but there is no substitute for vigilance. Keep a close eye and hand on your child, so you can get to and from your car with your child’s safety intact. (Everyday Family-Parking Lot Safety)

What are some parking lot safety measures you take with your family?

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A small town southern belle, Ashley Thomas is a native of Sandy Run, S.C., and recently relocated back home after 10 years. She is the proud Army Spouse to Maj. Curtis A. Thomas and does not take her role lightly. Her life as military spouse has allowed her to experience her fair share of moving, transitioning in between working and as an AHM, deployments, and learning of new cultures. She is a graduate of Columbia College where she attained a B.A. in Psychology and the University of Washington-MSW. Ashley’s background is in education, child welfare, and community health. She is the mother of three amazing children (Corinne 4 ½, Caleb 2 ½, and Collin 6 months) who challenge her daily to lean more on God, stretch her faith, and never stop growing. In January 2014, Ashley ventured out to start her non-profit The Hive Community Circle. She also serves as a mentor for her alma mater Columbia College. In her free time when she can grab it, Ashley enjoys spending time with her family, being pinned up on Pinterest, baking, spending time with her hubby, and fellowshipping with her girlfriends. Besides being passionate about education and social justice, Ashley is also passionate about empowering and challenging women to walk in transparency. Her hope is that through her writings, mothers will be challenged to extend love and grace first to themselves, find inspiration and a sense of belonging, laugh a little, and once started, never stop living! You can follow Ashley on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.


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