We’ve all been there. You park the car, grab the shopping bags and put the keys down for a sec so that you can unstrap the kids.
But what if the door slams? And the car locks? And one of the kids is still inside? It’s a nightmare scenario, that’s played out every day right across Australia.
With summer temperatures set to soar across the country this weekend, it’s time to remind parents about the risk of children accidentally becoming trapped in cars.
The RACV recently revealed that it rescues more than 1400 children and babies from locked cars each year in Victoria. This doesn’t include the scores more kids that are rescued by police or other emergency crews.
And the numbers are high in other states too. The RAA recently told The Advertiser that children in South Australia are locked in cars at the rate of one child every two days. In Queensland, up to four children need rescuing each day.
And in New South Wales, the numbers are even higher, with motoring body NRMA rescuing almost 3,800 children and pets from cars in 2017.
“It is important to note that most of these instances occur accidentally when mum or dad will strap their child in their car seat, leave them to play with the car keys while they are loading the boot with groceries, or closing up the car for their journey.,” says NRMA Chief Officer Samantha Toranto.
“Often, our patrols find parents to be more distressed when we arrive at the scene than the children.”
Many modern cars are also too clever for their own good, self-locking after a certain time, which isn’t so great if the keys are still inside the car.
Kids easily trapped
As part of the RACV’s ‘Check Kids Check Keys’ campaign, Melbourne mum Joanne reveals how easy it is to accidentally lock a kid in a car.
“I put the keys and the bags on the seat and I was putting Ollie into his seat, I accidentally knelt on the keys, which locked the car,” she says, in the video.
“Once everything was in there, I got out of the car, closed the back door, before I opened the front door and that’s when I realised I’d locked my child in the car.”
With Melbourne, Adelaide, Albury and Alice Springs set to hit a scorching 41°C on Saturday, parents are again being warned about the serious danger hot cars pose to kids.
The RACV’s Melinda Spiteri urged parents not to give babies and toddlers their keys to play with because of the danger of accidental lock-ins.
“Younger children are more sensitive to heat compared to older children and adults as their body temperature rises up to five times faster than an older child’s,” she says. “If untreated, heatstroke can quickly damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles.
“Knowing the dangers vehicle lock-ins pose to young children, RACV treats call-outs of this nature as urgent. However, drivers should be aware that the few minutes it can take for a patrol to reach the scene can make all the difference in extreme temperatures.”
Four handy tips
The RACV has this handy advice to parents to prevent locking kids in the car:
- wind windows down before children get in the car
- never give your keys to children to play with
- avoid distractions when loading the car
- have an easy way to hold on to your keys
For more good car safety advice involving kids, take another look at this mum’s car seat warning after her car was crushed in a terrible accident.