As Victorians brace for another hot weekend, the state’s leading transport advocate RACV is warning drivers to be vigilant to avoid accidentally locking children in a vehicle.
RACV’s summer Check Keys – Check Kids campaign informs parents about how distractions can easily result in children being locked in cars, especially given the sophisticated locking technology used in some modern vehicles.
In 2016, RACV patrols rescued 1,406 children from locked vehicles; on average RACV attended about four callouts a day. The majority of these were accidental.
As part of the Check Keys – Check Kids campaign RACV is distributing a car-key lanyard free of charge through RACV shops or it can be ordered via racv.com.au/checkkeys.
RACV Education Programs Co-ordinator, Elvira Lazar, is encouraging all carers to get hold of a lanyard and to use it on all car trips with children.
“Any parent can become distracted and accidentally lock a child in the car and in hot summer conditions this can be extremely dangerous.
“Our testing has shown that a vehicle’s cabin can soar to over 70 degrees in minutes on a day when the outside temperature was only 30 degrees.
“Younger children are more sensitive to heat compared to older children and adults, as their body temperature rises up to five times faster than an older child’s and the risk of dehydration and even heatstroke increases if they’re in a hot car for a long time.”
Ms Lazar warned parents about giving car keys to children to play with.
“This is a dangerous practice as children can accidentally lock the car. Using RACV's lanyard is a convenient way for parents to attach the keys when they’re parked and it means parents will always know where their keys are and that they are within easy reach at all times,” she said.
“While RACV prioritises call-outs to vehicle lock-ins involving children, the few minutes it can take for a patrol to reach the scene can make an enormous difference when temperatures are extreme,” Ms Lazar said.
Tips to avoid locking your children in the car:
- Wind your windows down before putting children in the car in case the car automatically locks
- Never give your keys to children to play with because they can accidentally lock the car
- Try to avoid getting distracted when you’re loading and unloading the car, and
- Have an easy way to hold on to your keys to avoid locking you keys in your car this summer
This initiative is supported by Kidsafe Victoria and Ambulance Victoria.