By Clair Morton
Published: Thursday, December 28, 2017
Twenty-one children on average are being left in locked cars in South Australia every month, prompting the RAA to warn parents not to put their children’s lives at risk.
By mid-December, RAA patrols had responded to more than 235 callouts to rescue children from cars in 2017, meaning the year’s total could end up on par with 2016’s total of 265 callouts.
RAA spokesman Mark Borlace said parents needed to remember just how unsafe it was to leave a child locked and unsupervised inside a parked car, especially in the summer heat.
‘High temperatures have dangerous effects, including dehydration, heatstroke and potentially death,’ he said.
Despite the apparent dangers, there are still an alarming number of callouts to such occurrences.
In the 2016-17 summer alone, 54 children were rescued from hot cars, up from 49 the previous year.
The busiest months for child rescues this year were June and August, with 30 call-outs each. In October the RAA was called to 27 rescues across the state.
Mr Borlace said priority response was always given to calls involving children locked in cars.
When calling RAA to report a child or animal locked in a car, the member is asked if they also require emergency services and, if so, they are transferred to them while the two closest RAA Patrols are dispatched.
‘RAA Patrols are skilled at gaining quick entry to a vehicle, but some are becoming very difficult to break into,’ Mr Borlace said.
“From time to time, the patrol may need to use a specialised tool to break a window and gain entry.
‘To avoid this accidentally happening, parents should not give their child their keys to play with, in or near the car, as it’s very easy for them to hit the button and lock you out.
‘If you do find yourself in this situation, act quickly and try to remain as calm as possible so you don’t distress your child.’
- Always take your child with you, even if you only intend to leave the car for a brief time.
- Keep the keys with the driver – never leave them with the child, in the ignition or place them on a seat.
- Never let children play with keys or access an unattended vehicle.
- Check the vehicle is empty before remote locking – it is easy to make a mistake and accidentally lock them in.
- Don’t become complacent on cooler days; a car can still get dangerously hot on a 25 degree day.