Every parent knows the pain of getting petrol when you have young children.
There’s that gut-swizzling moment when you realise your baby is asleep or your toddler ramping up a tantrum, and you’ll have to navigate the petrol station forecourt with a banshee or two.
And don’t even mention the chips and chocolate they’ll be screaming for while you’re trying to pay!
While many believe it’s always a no-no to leave kids in the car while petrol is paid for, Christine Erskine, Executive Officer at Kidsafe Australia says it is actually the safest option, adding that it’s about assessing the relative risk.
“It’s much more dangerous to attempt a dash across a busy forecourt than to leave the children strapped safely in their car restraints with windows open at the top,” she says.
With most pumps covered by a roof, the car usually in eyeshot of the station’s shop and the super-quick nature of the transaction, children are far less likely to come to harm in a stationary car.
“Of course the engine should be off and keys firmly in the hands of an adult, but the risk to the children is minimal,” she adds.
This is backed up by laws which are more or less uniform across the Australian states and territories, about leaving children alone. In all cases parents are required to give adequate supervision and care of their children in timeframes considered reasonable.
In NSW, the law specifically addresses leaving kids in the car:
A person who leaves any child or young person in the person’s care in a motor vehicle without proper supervision for such period or in such circumstances that:
(a) the child or young person becomes or is likely to become emotionally distressed, or
(b) the child’s or young person’s health becomes or is likely to become permanently or temporarily impaired, is guilty of an offence.
This means a one-minute dash to tap your card with the car in your line of sight falls within adequate supervision guidelines.
Mother of twins Naomi Dorland agrees, “The general opinion from most multi parents is that, if you are on your own, it is more hazardous to get everyone out of the car. I generally chose to leave my twins in the car.” She adds that the station she chose was a quiet one, with no queues and she parked at the closest possible pump to the shop.
If still you’re uncomfortable about leaving kids alone in the car, we’ve lined up the best ways to avoid that very particular pain of taking kids along to the petrol station.
Time your fill up wisely
Try to find a time when you don’t have the kids in tow. Go when your partner is home, or solo parents could ask a trusted friend to mind the kids while they pop out. Or take advantage of a time you have another adult in the car with you.
It might mean you have to fill up a bit before it reaches empty, but it’s a lot less stress, especially if you have more than one little one.
Download a pay-in-car app
Parents who have a BP nearby will find the BPme in-car payment app incredibly handy. It works in 500 stations across Australia, and means you don’t have to leave your car to pay.
Locate a ‘pay-at-the-pump’ petrol station near you
While pay-at-the-pump was all the go a few decades ago, these facilities had all but disappeared until recently. It’s slowly re-remerging and parents are seeking them out in droves. Depending on where you live, you can locate a ‘pay-at-the-pump’ petrol station by using the Caltex Pay@Pump finder.
Extracted from Essential Baby