FRANKSTON has the dubious honour of having the second highest number of children left unattended in cars in the Melbourne metropolitan area over the past 12 months.\
That figure – 23 – trails Pakenham on 30 and equals Cranbourne’s 23. Narre Warren had 21 and Mornington 11.
Ambulance Victoria paramedics are disappointed at the 10 per cent increase. They describe the incidents as a mix of “deliberate or careless acts”.
The officers responded to 1165 cases of children under-13 locked in cars in the period. It’s estimated around 100 more calls were for teenagers or adults accidentally locked in cars.
Children under four were the subject of 85 per cent of calls to Ambulance Victoria reporting “someone’s locked in a car” from 1 September last year to 31 August this year. From December last year to March this year an average of four calls a day were made to triple zero reporting an incident. That number peaked at 13 in one day during the January heatwave.
The alarming figures have promoted a warning from paramedics, with the mercury hitting 34-degrees in Melbourne last Thursday and 40-degrees in Mildura. On that day, paramedics were called to cases of children locked in cars at Hastings, Ferntree Gully, Malvern East, East Geelong and Epping.
Ambulance Victoria group manager Brett Drummond said leaving children in a hot car could prove deadly. “People don’t seem to understand the deadly risks involved,” he said. “Tragically, there have been cases of children dying in hot cars in Victoria in recent years.”
He said being left in a hot car could quickly become life threatening for babies and young children as they can’t regulate their body temperature as adults can.
“It doesn’t have to be a scorching hot day for the car to quickly heat up,” he said. “Tests have found that even on a 29-degree day the inside of a car can reach 44 degrees within 10 minutes and 60 degrees within 20 minutes.
“You wouldn’t get out of the car after shopping and leave your ice cream in the back seat, so why would you leave your children there?”
The officers said it was also common for keys to be accidentally locked in cars with a child. About a quarter of cases occurred outside a house. We urge parents to be mindful and keep keys in their hand while they are getting children and shopping in and out of the car.”
The figures reveal:
– 1275 people locked in cars in the 12 months. It’s estimated 1165 of those were under-13.
– November-March are the busiest months, with an average of four calls per day
– 42 per cent of calls involving children under-13 occurred between 11am-3pm
– More than two thirds of calls were to car parks, streets or public places
– 25 per cent of calls occurred at home.
The maximum fine for leaving a child in a car has been increased to $3690.