Kid danger a click away
Parents, take extra care before you lock your car, warns Mark Hinchliffe
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.