Kid dan­ger a click away

Par­ents, take ex­tra care be­fore you lock your car, warns Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

MOD­ERN cars with re­mote­con­trolled dead-lock­ing doors could place chil­dren in dan­ger this sum­mer.

Thou­sands of ba­bies and young chil­dren are ac­ci­den­tally locked in cars around Aus­tralia each year and the po­ten­tial for in­jury or death is height­ened in sum­mer.

A ve­hi­cle tech­nolo­gies ex­pert says mod­ern cars make it more dif­fi­cult for own­ers and even trained ex­perts to break into cars quickly in emer­gen­cies.

‘‘At­tempt­ing to break the win­dows can lead to in­jury and should be avoided if pos­si­ble. It is bet­ter to gain en­try by other meth­ods,’’ he says.

The Aus­tralian Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates state clubs re­ceive hun­dreds of thou­sands of calls an­nu­ally for lock-outs, tens of thou­sands of calls for ba­bies or chil­dren locked in cars and a few thou­sand calls for ani- mals or pets. In Vic­to­ria, there are up to 135 calls a month for ba­bies and young chil­dren ac­ci­den­tally locked in cars.

Tests by the RACQ in Queens­land found tem­per­a­tures can rise from air­con­di­tioned lev­els to am­bi­ent in less than two min­utes and to 40C in seven min­utes.

In one test, the am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture was 32.5C, but in­side the car it peaked at 75.1C.

Kid Safe di­rec­tor Su­san Teerds says that even on a cloudy day the tem­per­a­ture can sky­rocket.

‘‘Hav­ing the win­dows down a bit doesn’t make a huge dif­fer­ence and the smaller the child the faster they suc­cumb to heat­stroke,’’ she says. ‘‘First they get dis­tressed, then they start to cry and try to get out and then they faint.’’

While wait­ing for emer­gency help, par­ents can help lower the car’s tem­per­a­ture.

‘‘Get a hose and spray the car or hold an um­brella up to shade the car,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s a last re­sort to break the win­dow. You have to use some­thing sharp and know what you are do­ing.

‘‘It would be ter­ri­fy­ing for the child to have some­one bash­ing on the win­dow.’’

Au­to­mo­bile clubs will send a ser­vice ve­hi­cle in an emer­gency, even if the caller is not a mem­ber.

Heat’s on: Caro­line Wright ac­ci­den­tally locked her three-year-old grand­son Jack Hardman in the car. An emer­gency crew saved him.

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