The number of children rescued from hot cars last month was the highest in five years, and one of Australia’s peak road safety organisations warns the figures are getting worse.
Grim statistics from the NRMA have prompted an urgent call for parents to be vigilant with their children in the car in a bid to avoid a potentially devastating outcome.
The warning follows a boy, 3, dying on Thursday after being left in a hot car in Glenfield, in Sydney’s southwest, during a scorching 34C day.
On Friday, NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury revealed the road safety organisation had rescued 213 children from hot cars across NSW and the ACT in January 2023 – the highest number in five years.
That number balloons to 501 if unattended pets are included in the figures.
But a more disturbing portrait emerges in the yearly statistics for 2022, with Mr Khoury saying 4267 children and pets (1882 children alone) were locked in cars that year.
That figure is the highest in a decade, he told NCA NewsWire.
“It’s highly dangerous all year round, regardless of the weather,” Mr Khoury said.
“But it’s particularly dangerous during Australian summers.”
Mr Khoury explained temperatures in cars doubled when compared with outside temperatures, meaning figures around the high 30s or 40s could reach “cooking temperatures” inside vehicles.
“That is clearly no place for a child, even for a few minutes,” he said.
“It doesn’t take long for children to become severely dehydrated before organ failure sets in, followed by potentially catastrophic consequences.”
While the majority of cases are accidents – usually involving parents inadvertently losing their keys to locked cars or accidentally locking the doors – Mr Khoury stressed there was “no safe time” to leave children alone when they were inside vehicles.
It is considered illegal across many Australian states to leave children unattended in cars.
In NSW, fines of up to $20,000 apply, while in Queensland, people who leave a child under 12 unattended in a car face up to three years’ jail.
Story Credit: news.com.au