A 1-year-old child was left inside a car for eight hours Thursday after his father forgot to drop him off at day care, police said.
The child, who was treated and released from Albany Medical Center, was bundled up appropriately for the outside air temperature and still restrained in his car seat when his father realized his mistake.
But his father didn’t realize until near the end of his workday, when he called his wife inquiring about the child, police said. The man is not being identified by police. An investigation is ongoing.
Police were called by the father Thursday just after 4 p.m. to 210 Morris Road. The child was conscious and alert when his father found him. He was treated at the scene by Colonie EMS and taken to Albany Medical Center. The child was released later Thursday evening.
“It’s a very happy outcome to a potentially dangerous situation,” Colonie police spokesman Lt. Robert Winn said.
Winn said leaving a young child alone is never appropriate, but it is even less so in extreme temperatures. The high Thursday in Colonie was just 15 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. At 8 a.m., it was just 5 degrees.
Child Protective Services and the Albany County District Attorney’s Office have been notified. They are working to determine if any charges should be filed, Winn said.
One possible charge could be misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child, Winn said. So far, no charges have been filed.
The problem of children being left behind in cars has been significant enough to catch the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has begun a campaign called “Where’s Baby? Look before you lock.”
The campaign mainly focuses on times of the year when temperatures are higher, with the dangers of heat stroke. That danger can occur at temperatures as low as 57 degrees, according to the campaign.
However, the campaign includes several general tips for parents to ensure they don’t leave their children behind, including tips that could have prevented the baby in Colonie from spending the day alone in the car.
In the Colonie case, the father had intended to drop the child off at day care. The “Where’s Baby?” campaign suggests parents ask their day care providers to simply call them if the child doesn’t arrive on time.
Parents, according to the campaign, should make it a habit to look in their back seat every time they exit their car, just to make sure the child isn’t there.
They also suggest parents write a note, placing it where they will see it, and place needed items in the car’s back seat to ensure that the area is checked. Another suggestion: Place a stuffed toy in the child’s car seat, then move that to a location where the driver will notice it once the child is in the car seat.