Jail warning on kids left in cars

CHRISTMAS shoppers in a rush to get those last few gifts have been warned about the dangers of leaving kids in cars in the hot summer sun while they rush into a store.

And with children on school holidays while the festive shopping goes on, parents who leave kids in cars have been warned they could face jail terms of up to three years.

Kidsafe Queensland executive officer Susan Teerds said a car left in the hot sun could quickly become a hazardous environment.

"In one RACQ test, the temperature inside a vehicle left in the sun rose from around 19 degrees to more than 30 degrees in just one-and-a-half minutes, reaching 40 degrees within eight minutes and then rising to a maximum temperature of more than 60 degrees," she said.

"In some circumstances, temperatures inside cars can exceed 70 degrees."

Mrs Teerds said the risk of injury was enormous in such cases, with 40 degrees enough to trigger symptoms of fluid loss, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heatstroke.

Bundaberg police Superintendent Rowan Bond said many people did not realise children dehydrated more quickly on a hot summer day than adults did.

"People think they can just jump out of the car and run into a shop for bread or a bottle of milk," he said.

"But they don't know how long they're going to be in the shop, and even a couple of minutes away can be too much."

Supt Bond said leaving the car with the engine running and the air-conditioning on could bring a whole new set of problems.

"You see it on the news where thieves just jump into a car and take off with the kid in the back seat," he said.

"Children also tend to fiddle and they could start playing with the gear lever or something."

Supt Bond said despite all the warnings police and other agencies put out about leaving children in cars in the sun, it still happened.

But he said the responsibility for the safety of kids in cars was "slap bang with the parents".

Supt Bond said if anyone spotted a child left in a car, they should call the police immediately.

And he warned more drastic action might be needed.

"In certain circumstances, where the child is in distress, they might need to take more immediate action," he said.

In an emergency they might even have to break in.

Pets should also not be left in vehicles as they could dehydrate quickly, he said.

 

THE DANGER

Leaving a child under 16 unsupervised inside a vehicle and being more than 3m away may result in three years in prison

The season, colour of the car or whether it has tinted windows or a sunshade makes no difference to the danger



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