Alarming new RACV statistics have revealed its Emergency Roadside Assistance (ERA) patrols are saving three children a day, on average, from locked cars.
Since the start of 2019, RACV ERA crews responded to 843 calls to help rescue young children locked in vehicles, the majority of which were accidental.
The statistics have been released as part of RACV’s Check Keys – Check Kids campaign, designed to prevent parents and carers from accidentally locking children in hot cars.
The campaign comes as Victorians brace for warmer summer weather with temperatures expected to push past 30 degrees in coming days.
RACV General Manager Public Policy, Bryce Prosser said vehicle cabin temperatures can more than double in the hotter months.
“RACV tests show that car interiors can reach more than 70 degrees in just minutes when the outside temperature is only 30 degrees. Especially around this time of year, it’s easy to become distracted and forget where our car keys are. A momentary lapse in concentration combined with sophisticated vehicle locking technology and soaring summer temperatures is a recipe for disaster,” Mr Prosser said.
“Research shows that younger children are more sensitive to heat than older children and adults, as their body temperatures rise five times faster. This means they are at higher risk of dehydration and heatstroke when trapped in a hot car.”
RACV ERA patrolman Steven Kendall, who has rescued hundreds of kids from cars over his 30-year career with RACV, said it was important that parents remain calm if they end up accidentally locking a child in a car.
“Knowing the dangers vehicle lock-ins pose to young children, RACV prioritises these call-outs as urgent and we allocate the job to the closest RACV crew,” Mr Kendall said.
“Once on scene, we attempt to unlock the door with our expertise and tools, but depending on the temperature outside and the make of the vehicle, we may end up breaking a window to get the child out.”
As part of Check Keys - Check Kids, RACV is advising carers and parents to follow the below tips to avoid accidentally locking kids in the car:
- Wind windows down before putting children in the car
- Never give your keys to children to play with
- Avoid distractions when loading your car
- Find an easy way to hold on to your keys such as a lanyard or clip.
If a child is accidentally locked in the car, parents and carers should:
- Call 13 11 11 immediately for RACV roadside assistance
- Call 000 immediately for life threatening emergencies
- Keep calm but act quickly.
Find out more about RACV's Check Keys – Check Kids campaign.
For media enquiries, interviews or images, contact RACV’s Media & Communications team on 03 9790 2572 or 0417 041 398.