RACQ called to a child a day locked in hot cars last month

IT'S that moment of panic when the car locks slide down and you realise your car keys and child are still inside as temperatures climb towards boiling point.

Any parent's worst nightmare has happened to more than 1000 people this year on the Sunshine Coast.

New figures show the RACQ helps to rescue an average of 10 children per month from inside locked cars.

In November alone, these numbers climbed to 30 - about one child per day being freed from a hot car on the Coast.

RACQ technical and safety policy executive manager Steve Spalding said inattention and split-second lapses in judgment often were the cause for emergency call-outs.

He said RACQ treated the calls for children locked in cars as a high priority, regardless of whether the motorist was a member of the club.

"At this time of year, people have a lot of things on their minds and perhaps they are more distracted," Mr Spalding said.

"We see a range of situations where it occurs, from picking up kids from school to back at the family home.

"But wherever there are children and shopping being loaded into a car, that is a high-risk point and where we attend most.

"Usually the parent has given a child the keys to play with, the locking button has been activated and when that rear door is shut, the car effectively 'locks itself'."

RACQ staff use a range of techniques to open a door, sometimes sending two crews to speed the process.

"Our advice to parents would be to always retain their keys and never hand them to a child to play with," Mr Spalding said.

"Don't allow children to play with vehicles unattended and tell children it is never safe to play in cars.

"But most importantly, just pause and think for a moment before closing the door."

Kidsafe Queensland CEO Susan Teerds said the temperature inside a car could rise 40C above the outside temperature within five to 10 minutes.

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