With temperatures expected to reach 36 degrees in Melbourne, and as high as 43 degrees in other parts of the state, RACV is urging parents and carers to Check Keys – Check Kids to prevent accidentally locking children in hot cars. The busy holiday season can mean that momentary distractions by parents and carers could lead to deadly consequences.
Melbourne has experienced the hottest spring on record, with the first ever seven-day streak of temperatures higher than 28 degrees in November since official records began in 1862. RACV tests have shown that on a day when the outside temperature is 30 degrees, it takes only minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to exceed 70 degrees.
So far in 2017, there has been an alarmingly high 1,150 call outs by RACV patrols to rescue young children locked in vehicles; this translates to an average of four incidents per day. The majority of these were accidental, and sophisticated locking technology is making accidental lock-ins more likely.
RACV Manager, Road User Behaviour, Melinda Spiteri, urges parents not to give keys to children to play with, and to keep keys secure on a lanyard while on all car trips over summer. Through the Check Keys – Check Kids campaign, RACV is offering free car-key lanyards, available at all RACV shops.
“After a long day at the beach, or a backyard barbeque with family and friends, any parent can become easily distracted. The RACV car-key lanyards give drivers a convenient solution for easy key storage, and give parents one less thing to worry about while they enjoy the summer,” Ms Spiteri advised.
Research has shown that younger children are more sensitive to heat than older children and adults, as their body temperatures rise five times faster than an older child’s. This means they are at high risk of dehydration and heatstroke when trapped in a hot car.
“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,” Ms Spiteri said.
Tips to avoid locking your children in the car
- Wind windows down in case the car automatically locks.
- Never let children play with keys as they can accidentally lock the car.
- Avoid distraction when loading and unloading the car.
- Have an easy way to hold on to your keys, such as using RACV’s free lanyard, to avoid an accidental lockout.