On a typical Australian summer day, the temperature inside a parked car can be over 30° higher than the outside temperature. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to prevent the temperature from rising in a parked car. Even having the car window open makes minimal difference to the internal cabin temperature.
Having the window open by 2.5cm would only reduce the temperature by approximately 3°C.
Kidsafe WA outline the Dangers of Leaving Children in Cars:
Leaving children unattended in the car, even for a short time, can be fatal. Here are some of the risks involved:
- Children do not tolerate heat as well as adults and tend to feel the effects of heat much more rapidly.
- In a parked car, the temperature and humidity rise, while the airflow decreases. This could lead to dehydration and other health risks.
- A child may also become distressed and try to get out of their restraint; this may also increase the risk of strangulation from the harness.
Under the Children and Community Services Act 2004, Part 4 – Protection and care of children. A person who has the care or control of a child and who leaves the child in a motor vehicle (as defined in the Road Traffic Act 1974) without proper supervision for such period or in such circumstances that:
- a) the child becomes or is likely to become emotionally distressed; or
- b) the child’s health becomes or is likely to become permanently or temporarily impaired;
is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.
Reducing the Risks
- Never leave children unattended in a car.
- Plan to complete quick jobs when you don’t have children with you.
- Seek service stations offering pay at the pump.
- Dress children accordingly, and check that the harness still fits the child correctly. Children wearing lightweight clothing may need their harness tightened.
- Provide plenty of cool fluids – preferably water.
- Use a visor or sunshade on car windows. Avoid using a hood on rearward-facing restraints as this will decrease airflow around baby’s head.
- Plan journeys for the cooler hours of the day.
- S eek shady areas to stop or park your car, to reduce the amount of the direct sunlight hitting your car.
- Ensure cars are locked and the keys are out of reach of children to prevent children from gaining access to the car.
- Always check the car before you leave it.
- Cool your car down as much as possible before putting the child in the car.