Heat alert on kids in locked cars

AS temperatures soar across the south-west, the RACV has warned motorists that leaving children locked inside a car is extremely dangerous. 

RACV patrols were called out 1644 times to rescue children and animals locked in cars across the state during the past 12 months.

A Warrnambool woman recently called emergency services after a young child was left inside a car parked in Liebig Street for at least 15 minutes and there were reports during stifling temperatures last week of a dog locked inside a car in a CBD car park.

RACV general manager public policy Brian Negus said it was extremely disappointing motorists were failing to heed the message that locking children in cars was a life-threatening decision.

“Locking people in cars, particularly vulnerable small children, is extremely dangerous and clearly unacceptable,” Mr Negus said.

“Many parents give their keys to their child to play with but this is a dangerous practice as children can accidentally lock the car.

“In these extreme temperatures the interior of a stationary vehicle, even when parked in the shade, can become a death-trap with temperatures skyrocketing to a lethal 60 degrees within minutes regardless of whether windows are left open.

“It can only take a few minutes for a child locked in a car with that temperature to become seriously ill or die due to heatstroke or dehydration.”

Tests show that in just one minute a vehicle’s cabin temperature can soar from an airconditioned 19 degrees to 30 degrees. It takes just another seven minutes to reach 40 degrees, the temperature level that medical experts warn can be fatal. 

“Heat in cars can kill children three times more quickly than it would adults,” said Mr Negus. “RACV Roadside Assistance — 13 11 11 — prioritises call-outs to vehicle lock-ins but the few minutes it can take for a patrol to reach the scene can make an enormous difference when temperatures are extreme.”

malexander@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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