Real reason for Baby on Board sign – that 99% of parents don’t know

They're a life-saving signal for the emergency services - but can also be a dangerous time-waster

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They’re definitely Marmite. Some people love ‘Baby on Board’ car signs, others find them teeth-gnashingly annoying. But they serve an important purpose – if used correctly. The trouble is that 99% of us don’t use them properly.

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For many parents, Baby on Board stickers are a fun shout out that there’s a Little Princess, a Cheeky Monkey or a Little Dude in the car. In fact, our emergency services – fire brigade, ambulance, police services – use them as an important sign in an emergency that a child is in the vehicle. 

“It may seem a relatively trivial issue to some but it could become a life-or-death situation in the event of a serious road accident,” explains Mark Hall, spokesperson for car hire company Flexed.co.uk, which is trying to raise awareness of the issue. “It’s one of those urban myths that are actually true – emergency services really do take these signs as gospel.”

The advice is simple – if your child is not in the car, take the sign down.

If your car is involved in an emergency or accident, emergency services are obliged to search the car and the surrounding area for a child if there is a Baby on Board sign on display. 

It’s no urban myth. Emergency services magazine Ambulance Today spoke to a paramedic Jamie Shuttleworth who described an accident where a car was ripped in half, and the emergency services spent around 20 minutes at the scene searching adjacent fields and hedges for a baby that wasn’t there. All because of the presence of the baby sign, toys and other items.

But parents clearly don’t know this. According to a survey carried out by Flexed: 

  • Only 1 % of parents with Baby on Board signs removed it when they were driving without a child in the back
  • 99% said they didn’t think it mattered, or weren’t aware of the real use of the Baby on Board sign

The message is clear – no child, no Baby on Board sign

We hear a lot of advice as parents, but this one makes instant sense: take the Baby on Board sign down if your child isn’t in the car. 

“Removing that sign could save paramedics’ time,” adds Hall, “and could save a life.” 

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