The message on the dangers of leaving kids in cars on hot days is loud and clear, but it seems some parents are unaware the risks also stretch to cooler months.
New figures show at least 450 babies and toddlers were rescued from cars across Australia last month – and one state motoring body says new car technology may be at least partly to blame.
Queensland’s RACQ says it is alarmed by the rise in the number of children locked in cars in May. Its roadside assistance patrols freed more than 200 babies and toddlers from vehicles – more than double the usual average daily rate and as many as 16 in one day.
Victoria’s RACV saved 164 children from locked cars in May; 50 more than in April and double the number rescued during the height of summer in January. Western Australia’s RAC also noted a significant increase in rescues last month, almost doubling to 68 from April’s 38. South Australia’s RAA rescued 24 children; a drop from 35 in April but 11 more than in January.
RACQ spokeswoman Lauren Ritchie says tests have shown it takes as few as seven minutes for the temperature inside a car to reach 40 degrees celsius.
“Even now during the winter months, it’s never safe to leave a child alone in a vehicle for any period of time,” she says. “Being exposed to such high temperatures in a car can kill or lead to severe injury for young children in a relatively short time.”
Ms Ritchie says new car technology can be a double-edged sword when it comes to vehicle safety. “It’s now easier than ever to secure your car with the click of a button but it also means it can be that easy for a child to lock themselves inside,” she says. “Never let your child play with keys or access an unattended vehicle.”
If your child becomes locked in a car, phone 000 or roadside assistance if you have a membership.
Revisit our previous post to share one mother’s heartbreaking story – and her warning to all parents – after her daughter became locked in a car, with terrible consequences.