This article originally appeared on Yahoo Parenting and was reprinted with permission.
Singer Carrie Underwood had a surprisingly common mom moment over the weekend, after realizing her four-month-old son was locked in her car.
On Saturday, the superstar tweeted that her dogs had inadvertently locked themselves and her baby boy Isaiah in the car. “When your dogs manage to lock themselves, all your stuff & the baby in the car & you have to break a window to get in. #WhatAreTheChances” she wrote. Later that day, she elaborated on the incident. “I should clarify. My bro-in-law was actually the window breaker in the ‘dogs-locked-the-car-door’ incident today! But all is good now!” Then she added, “Minus the broken window, of course!”
Safety organizations are applauding the new mom for publicly admitting to what is actually a very common scenario. “A lot of people would have swept it under the rug and not said anything,” Amber Rollins, director of the child safety organization Kids and Cars, tells Yahoo Parenting. “This is actually very common, but we don’t have statistics on how often it happens because people don’t report it when the child wasn’t harmed.”
Rollins says kids get locked in cars nearly everyday, often by responsible, well-meaning parents. “This happens to the type of parents who take every safety precaution and do everything they can to protect their child,” she says. “It can happen to any well-intended person. You put your keys down for two seconds and you’re distracted — there are a million different scenarios that can lock a child in a car, and it happens so quickly.”
In fact, before working for Kids and Cars, Rollins says a similar incident happened to her while watching a friend’s child. “My friend’s baby was in the carseat, and it was freezing out so I wanted to keep the heat on until she was out of the car,” Rollins says. “So I got out of the car, closed my door, and, out of habit, locked the door without thinking.” She called 911, and says a fire truck quickly showed up to help.
“It was really embarrassing,” Rollins says. “I thought, what an idiot I am, and I didn’t want to tell anybody, because who else has done this? How could I be so absent-minded? But now I’ve learned this happens all the time.”
For parents who find their kids locked in the car, especially during the summer, time is of the essence. “Two-thirds of the increase in temperature inside of a car happens in the first 10 minutes,” Rollins says. “A matter of minutes can be the difference between life or death — or brain damage — for a child. You want to get them out immediately.”
Rollins says Underwood did just the right thing by breaking in. “Always break the window that is furthest away from the child,” she says. Kids and Cars offers a “Resqme Car Escape Tool” that parents can keep on hand for just this occasion, which easily shatters a window when a child needs saving. “But you can use any blunt object to break the window,” Rollins explains. “The bottom left corner is the weak spot, rather than trying to break it in the middle.”
Parents who are scared to try and break a window themselves can call 911 or Pop-a-Lock, a national locksmith that will unlock your car for free if a child is locked alone inside, Rollins says.
Underwood’s incident had a happy ending, and hopefully her admission will help other parents remember what to do in a similar emergency. “She’s got an incredible following,” says Rollings. “The awareness that she has raised by sharing her story could potentially save lives.”
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