I don’t know about you, but I’m always nervous when I load and unload my children from their stroller or shopping cart in a parking lot. There is rarely enough space to safely put a stroller when your car is parked, so you are generally left with few options, all of which could be hazardous to your child.
I’ve come up with a list of the most common ways people handle strollers in parking lots:
You put the stroller directly behind your car.
Cars backing up behind your car could hit the stroller or shopping cart if they go too fast or don’t pay attention to their surroundings. Similarly, cars driving down the parking row too fast could hit the stroller without seeing it.
You tuck your stroller between your car and the car parked next to you.
Cars that back up out of the space next to you while you’re loading/unloading the stroller or cart could make contact with it.
You park in a space that is next to an empty space. You put the stroller partially into the empty space.
While this provides you more space for the stroller, another car could drive into the space and not see the stroller until it’s made contact.
In parking areas where there is a sidewalk adjacent to the parking space, you put the stroller on the sidewalk.
In this case, the danger is not from a car but from potential kidnappers, who could roll the stroller away with the child inside while you’re still unloading the car.
You may wonder: Why am I so paranoid about strollers and parking lots?
Well, I have had several harrowing experiences involving my children in the stroller and shopping cart with cars in the parking lot. These incidents have made me hyperaware of the dangers in the parking lot, and I hope they will increase your awareness as well.
My first stroller incident occurred when I parked my stroller between my car and the car next to mine. I had just put my daughter in the stroller and I was tending to some packages in my car. All of a sudden, the car next to me started to back up at an angle so that it headed directly toward my daughter’s stroller.
In this case, the car involved was a SUV, and the driver was not able to see the stroller parked alongside her, as it was in her blind spot. I ran for the stroller as soon as I saw the backup lights, but before I knew it, that car had hit the stroller with my daughter sitting inside it.
Fortunately, the car stopped immediately and I was able to pull the stroller away from that car, and my daughter was completely unhurt and mercifully unaware of the incident.
The second incident involved a shopping cart. We had just finished grocery shopping and the shopping cart (with my children still sitting in it) was directly behind my car as we were getting the doors opened to unload the groceries and put my children in the car.
The car parked directly behind (across the aisle from) mine began to back up, and the driver did not look behind her before she began to back up. She backed up so fast that she would have hit the shopping cart with my children still inside.
We were fortunate that my husband was close enough to the cart that he lunged for the cart and was able to move it to safety. Otherwise that car would most certainly have hit the shopping cart with my children still inside.
The driver was completely unaware of what might have happened as she drove off without a single glance behind her.
The third incident occurred at a popular theme park. These parks have parking attendants that direct you to park in a specific order to fill the spaces. In this case, each parking aisle consisted of two rows of cars, parked front to back. We were in the front row of cars, and we put the stroller directly behind our car.
We had just put our children in the stroller and we were both looking in the car to make sure we had everything we needed when all of a sudden, a car appeared in the parking space directly behind us and started driving toward our stroller. We were fortunate that the driver was going slowly and was parked far enough behind our car so that there was enough space for maneuvering the stroller.
However, I’ve seen people pull into these parking spaces still driving fast. Had that been the case, they might not have seen the stroller in time to keep from hitting it. I made sure the park management got a piece of my mind with that incident! That parking attendant endangered our children by directing a car to park into the space directly behind while the stroller was exposed, and they had put our children in danger.
So with all these potentially dangerous stroller situations, what do I personally do? Here are a couple things that I do, which I hope will help keep my children safer.
- After parking, I keep my children in the car until just before I am ready to go into the store. This means that after unfolding the stroller, I put the diaper bag and all my supplies or packages into the stroller first. I put my children in the stroller or shopping cart last. They’re much safer staying in the car until just before I’m ready to go.
- When I am leaving, I put my children into the car first. I wait until after I have buckled them both into the car before I unload the groceries and packages.
- I push my stroller as close to my car as possible and push it all the way up to the door. I never leave it behind the car when my children are still inside the stroller.
- I roll the stroller to one side of the car and have my older daughter climb out directly into the open door of the car. After she’s buckled in, I roll the stroller to the other side of the car to take my younger daughter out of the stroller and buckle her into the car.
- When my children are in the stroller and in the parking lot, I never allow the stroller to be out of my sight. I just don’t trust the cars and crazy drivers that are out there, especially in parking lots!
- While this may sound like the rantings of a paranoid mom, I maintain that a healthy dose of paranoia is perfectly acceptable when it comes to keeping my children safe.
I hope this will help increase everyone’s awareness when in a parking lot, both as a pedestrian pushing a stroller, and also as a driver. Please be careful … it’s a (concrete and asphalt) jungle out there!