Every year in Australia, over 5,000 children are rescued after being left unattended in a car.
Have you ever left a small child in the car while you 'just pop in to grab some milk'? You're far from alone.
The NRMA reports that it receives more than 12 phone calls every day from anxious parents who have accidentally locked children in cars.
An NRMA member survey showed that more than 40 per cent of people who had driven with a young child in the last year said they had felt anxious or pressured by another driver waiting for them to put their child in the car or load shopping.
This additional pressure can often lead to accidental lock-ins with the majority of calls for help coming from car parks. Residential driveways are also notorious locations for lock-ins.
Human error is not always to blame. Over-zealous pets knocking internal door locks and auto lock car technology result in calls to the NRMA.
On a 40-degree day it won’t take long at all for temperatures inside a locked car to reach 80 degrees – that’s cooking temperatures and obviously no place for a child or pet. This video prepared by Kidsafe with chef Matt Moran illustrates alarmingly just how hot your can will get on a sunny day.
Children are particularly at risk because they can lose fluid quickly, become dehydrated and suffer from potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
Vehicle manufacturers are now rapidly introducing technologies to new vehicles to reduce the incidence of children being forgotten in cars. From the Buckle Me Up Bluetooth app to rear seat reminder technology that gives drivers an alert to check the back seats before leaving their car.
While technology can be incredibly helpful, it doesn't replace the role of education and vigilance. The US-based 'Where's Baby? Look Before You Lock' campaign is designed encourage and support car safety information, without apportioning blame noting, "Although it might be hard to understand how this can happen, most parents who leave their children behind simply forgot. In most of these tragedies, parents became distracted. They were distracted because they were thinking about work issues, or simply fell into a daily routine that, on a usual day, did not involve responsibility for a young child."
For more information, download this great guide from Kidsafe Australia.
DID you know
- It is illegal to leave a child unattended in a car and may result in fines or a prison sentence.
- 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.
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