EVERY year in Australia, more than 5000 children have to be rescued from parked cars.
According to Kidsafe – the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia – 75 per cent of these children are aged under four years.
Kidsafe says that the temperature inside a parked car can be more than 30 degrees hotter than the air outside and even on a coolish day, the mercury inside a vehicle can exceed 70 degrees.
Children are particularly at risk, Kidsafe says, because they lose fluid quickly and dehydrated children are at risk of suffering potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
“There are a number of situations that can lead to an incident; changes in a normal routine or the keys being accidentally locked inside can result in a child being left in a car unintentionally,” according to Kidsafe.
“Parents sometimes choose to leave their child unattended, thinking they will only be gone for a few minutes. This can easily turn into 10 to 15 minutes and because the temperature rise in a vehicle is so rapid, even a short amount of time can place them in extreme danger.”
According to Kidsafe, in NSW 2200 children were rescued from cars in 2013 alone, and in one of the country’s hottest states, Queensland, between three and five cases are reported every day.
And we know that, tragically, for some children rescue comes all too late.
Of course, hearing these figures is one thing, but seeing an experiment to prove it is another.
Kidsafe teamed up with chef Matt Moran to give a horrifying demonstration of just how hellishly hot it can be in a parked car.
Moran and Kidsafe parked a car at Bondi Beach – and cooked a lamb loin inside it.
Moran’s demonstration showed how quickly the inside of a car can hit scorching temperatures on a sunny day, with the car’s inside temperature peaking at 83 degrees.
According to reports, Moran put two lamb loins inside the car and added nothing but olive oil in order to cook the meat in the extreme heat.
Both sides of the lamb were removed after 90 minutes and Moran said they were “totally overdone”.
But Moran’s experiment was not unfamiliar.
Here in Wagga, at the Amy Hurd Childcare Centre, staff successfully cooked a batch of cupcakes by leaving them inside a parked car for four hours.
The experiment was conducted in January last year, on a day when the temperature topped 39 degrees.
While the dangers of leaving children in cars is getting more attention, it seems the message is still not reaching as far as it should and people are still taking potentially deadly risks.
Earlier this month, the Herald Sun reported that the number of children requiring treatment after being trapped in hot cars had soared by 40 per cent in the past year.
“As the mercury rises again, the Herald Sun can reveal paramedics were called to a record 1531 instances of children being locked in hot cars — up more than 30 per cent from the 1165 in 2014,” the newspaper reported.
Ambulance Victoria’s director of emergency management, Paul Holman, told the newspaper: “If people continue with this complacent attitude that we have in sections of the community, where they knowingly leave their kids in the car, we are going to see fatal consequences.”
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