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As the weather begins to warms up again here in Southern California, we would like to remind parents that convenience is not always the better option, especially when it comes to your kids. It could be the line that defines whether you are a good or bad parent!

For example, you just picked up your 5 year old from pre-school. You need to make a quick stop at the store to buy toilet paper before you go home.

You have two scenarios:

1. Bring your child into the store with you and possibly deal with their crying, screaming, running around, nonstop talking, grabbing and breaking things, etc. Imagine the most nightmarish trip to the store.

2. Leave your child in the car and you will be in and out of the store in 10 minutes. Easy peasy!

Well, unless your child is 7 years old or older, you must go with option 1 because in California, it is illegal to leave a child 6 years old or younger unattended in the car unless they are supervised by someone at least 12 years old. At the same time though, you will need to consider your child’s responsibility and maturity level, and their willingness to be left alone in the car if they are 7 years or older. It could be that your 9 year old son is too immature to be left alone in the car for 10 minutes, or he feels uncomfortable left alone in the car for that long.

Moreover, if it is a hot sunny day outside, the car gets heats up quickly. This builds a dangerous environment for anyone inside the car, especially young children.

Violators of California’s laws regarding children left alone in cars can face fines. In more serious scenarios, child endangerment charges can be brought forth, which is punishable with jail time. You may think that leaving your child alone in the car is harmless, but things can go the wrong way very quickly.