As the east coast of Australia braces for another scorcher today, parents are being warned to make sure their children are kept safe from oven-like conditions in cars. While it’s illegal and extremely dangerous to leave children in a car, accidental lock-ins do happen; but there are ways to prevent mistakenly locking your kids in the car.
The rising mercury means children are more vulnerable to soaring temperatures in cars. The NRMA says on a 40 degree day, the interior of a vehicle can quickly reach 80 degrees – a potentially life-threatening situation for children or pets left in cars.
The motoring body has rescued 165 children locked in cars across NSW and the ACT this month, and more than 2,000 over the course of the year. Parents who are distracted often find themselves in the frightening situation of having accidentally locked their child in their car.
“This happens quite easily actually,” Dimitra Vlahomitros, NRMA Senior Policy Adviser, Road Safety, tells Babyology. “And it could be the parents putting the kid in the car first and the child might be having a tantrum and you might use your car keys as a distraction for the child. You pop your pram and your shopping in the boot and close all the doors and then you realise that the baby has actually pressed lock and the car will automatically lock.”
Parents are being advised that no matter what state they are in, they can call on their local authorities for help.”If it’s an emergency obviously call triple zero, and if the child is quite distressed please try and break into your vehicle as safely as possible to get the child out. Please call your motoring authority, so NRMA or RACV or whatever your state may be. We prioritise these calls, which means that even if you are a member or non-member we drop our jobs and come and get the child out straight away,” says Ms Vlahomitros.
The NRMA has released the following tips, to help reduce the amount of children being accidentally locked in cars:
- Find an alternative to car keys being used as a ‘distraction toy’ for a young child.
- Try and place keys in a clothes pocket.
- Focus on where you put your keys, particularly when taking a phone call, loading the boot or placing a child in a car seat.
- Leave the driver door ajar or window down when packing the boot or moving away from the car.
- Don’t rush because another driver is waiting for the parking space.
“Take your time when you’re packing up your car and putting your shopping away. People will wait. It’s really important to take your time and not be stressed because that’s when things can actually go wrong,” she says.