HEAT KILLS: It will take just minutes for the heat inside a car to cause permanent damage or death for young children, the RACQ warns.
HEAT KILLS: It will take just minutes for the heat inside a car to cause permanent damage or death for young children, the RACQ warns.

Bad habits put lives of children, pets in danger

ALMOST 100 children have been locked in cars on the Sunshine Coast in a single year, as the RACQ calls for parents to change habits that are putting lives in danger.

The Coast was the third-worst region in Queensland last year for locking children in cars, beaten only by the Brisbane area with 400 incidents and the Gold Coast with 169.

The RACQ was called to rescue 92 animals locked in cars on the Sunshine Coast, with local pet owners almost exceeding the more highly populated Gold Coast where 101 animals were rescued.

RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said most cases were accidental and avoidable, and urged motorists to avoid a mistake often leading to children being locked in cars.

"Parents or carers will hand the keys to their child to play with while they unpack the shopping or load their vehicle, and they inadvertently press the lock button," Mr Spalding said.

"Please, keep your car keys on you and if you see a child trapped in a car, call RACQ or emergency services. Don't try to break a window, this can injure the child or animal inside."

The number of dogs left in cars on the Sunshine Coast was much closer to the number of children, compared to every other region where animal cases were more rare than child cases.

4 Paws Animal Rescue founder Julie Penlington believed most incidents were accidents, with owners forgetting to take pets out of the vehicle when they got home.

"I've had some sad cases where people have forgotten their dogs are in their car," Mrs Penlington said.

"My cleaning man had to go out to two dogs who were left in a car because family members forgot about them... it was a very distressing thing."

She urged pet owners to do a "head count" of children and pets whenever they exited the car, and always keep an eye on dogs for excessive panting or drooling, which are signs of heatstroke.

She said freezing up a block of ice with a treat in the middle, placed in a bucket of water, would keeps dogs' temperature down.

But the "stupidity" of deliberately leaving dogs in cars would cause their death in just minutes, Mrs Penlington said.

"Some people just don't give a toss."

Mr Spalding said there was never a safe time to leave a child or animal alone in a vehicle.

"It doesn't matter if you're parked in the shade or your windows are slightly down," he said.

"The reality is car temperatures can reach 40 degrees in just seven minutes and these high temperatures can have serious health impacts, or even cause death, for those locked inside.


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