There’s been a big jump in Triple Zero (000) calls to children left in cars, prompting a warning from Ambulance Victoria for people not to gamble with their children’s lives.
Paramedics are frustrated by the 23 per cent increase in calls with 1433 children aged under 13 locked in a car from 1 September 2014 to 31 August 2015. Another 100 calls were made to report someone older or a pet locked in a car.
Children aged under four made up 88 per cent of calls to Ambulance Victoria. The number of babies aged under 12 months locked in a car increased by almost 50%, with paramedics called to 374 babies.
Forty per cent of the calls occurred between December and March.
Director of Emergency Management Paul Holman said children die in hot cars.
‘Tragically we’ve seen three children die in recent years after being left in a car on a hot day,’ Mr Holman said.
‘It’s clear that leaving children in a car could prove deadly yet people don’t seem to understand the risks.
‘It doesn’t matter whether you accidentally lock the keys in the car with your child or make a deliberate decision to leave the child in the car. The risks are the same.
‘Young children can’t regulate their body temperature like we can. That puts them at significant risk and being left in a car can quickly become life threatening.’
Tests by Ambulance Victoria found that even on a 29-degree day the inside of a car could reach 44 degrees within 10 minutes and hit 60 degrees within 20 minutes.
‘You wouldn’t go shopping and then leave a tub of ice cream in the back seat of the car so why would you leave your children there?’ Mr Holman said.
Not all of the calls were to children deliberately locked in a car. Many involved people accidentally locking their keys and kids in the car. About 20 per cent of calls to someone locked in a car occurred outside a house.
The figures also reveal:
- November to March were the busiest months, with an average of five calls per day
- 45% of calls involving children aged under 13 occurred between 11am and 3pm
Penalties for leaving a child unattended in a car include a $3,690 fine or up to six months jail.
For further information please contact:
Ambulance Victoria Media Unit
Phone: (03) 9848-7343