11 October 2020

Police renew warning to carers after child left unattended in hot car in Belconnen

| David Murtagh
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Hot day

A car sitting in the sun can reach critical temperatures in a matter of minutes. Photo: File.

With temperatures starting to rise and summer fast approaching, ACT Policing and the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) have reminded parents and carers about the dangers of leaving children unattended in a parked vehicle.

The warning comes after a three-year-old child was rescued from a hot car on Monday (5 October) at a Belconnen car park.

The incident was reported to police at about 3:50 pm and the child is believed to have spent about 20 minutes in the back of the car until a member of the public was able to remove the distressed and over-heated child from the unlocked vehicle.

The outcome could have been much worse, according to Belconnen Patrol Sergeant David Wills, who noted it doesn’t take a 40-degree day for disaster to strike.

“It was only about 25 degrees on Monday but the inside of a car sitting in the sun can reach critical temperatures in a matter of minutes,” Sergeant Wills said.

“Even if you only plan to be away from the vehicle for a short time, a young child can quickly dehydrate and lapse into unconsciousness with potentially fatal consequences.”

ACT Ambulance Service Acting General Manager – Operations Rebecca Lundy said children are highly susceptible to the effects of heat, and in an enclosed vehicle, temperatures can rise rapidly.

“While it may be difficult to bring your child with you, leaving them behind in a car is potentially extremely dangerous,” Ms Lundy said.

“If a child is showing symptoms of dehydration or heat stress it’s important to seek immediate medical attention, cool them by applying cool, wet towels around the neck and underarms and if conscious, to give cool fluids – preferably water – to drink, as soon as possible.”

ACT Policing said it is an offence to knowingly or recklessly leave a child unattended in circumstances or for a length of time that could result in injury, sickness or other danger. The penalty is a maximum of one year’s imprisonment and/or a fine of $15,000.

If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle, call 000.

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