Our sweltering shame

Those who see children or pets locked inside a hot car are urged to call triple-zero.

By Rowan Forster

Victoria’s triple-zero service has revealed both Pakenham and Berwick are hotspots for toddlers and children being locked inside sweltering cars.

It comes as yet another three kids were reportedly left inside a vehicle near Heritage Springs Shopping Centre on Tuesday afternoon, despite the scorching heat.

The mercury skyrocketed to 38 degrees Celsius in Pakenham, with the temperature expected to be at least 20 degrees hotter inside a vehicle.

The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) said last summer there were 564 cases of a child being locked in a hot car.

On average, emergency services responded to six

calls a day, with 199 call-outs in January alone.

Joining Pakenham and Berwick as the most troublesome suburbs were Frankston, Preston and Dandenong.

ESTA’s executive director of operations Patrick Berry urged parents and carers to remember that the temperature inside a car could be 20 to 30 degrees hotter than outside.

He said there is no excuse for leaving children or pets in hot cars.

“If you see a child or pet locked in a car make sure you call triple zero (000) and state your location clearly to the operator,” he said.

“If you are in a car park, look for landmarks, section names, numbers or the colour of the parking bay so you can provide specific details.”

Mr Berry said he hoped that the number of calls would drop with community awareness.

Jason Chambers, Kidsafe Victoria general manager, said leaving a child unattended in a car, even for a short time, was dangerous.

“Most of the temperature rise inside a car occurs within the first five minutes and leaving the windows down has little effect on the temperature rise,” he said.

“A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult, which places children at greater risk of suffering from dehydration and life threatening heatstroke.

“It’s a good idea to keep your keys on you at all times when packing and unpacking the car to reduce the risk of your keys accidentally becoming locked in the car with a child.”