Despite massive awareness campaigns by the State and Federal governments, every year many children still die of heatstroke after being left in hot cars. Sometimes these deaths are caused by the deliberate actions of parents, and sometimes they are caused by fatal distraction, where parents forget that their children are in the car. Whichever the situation, here's what you should do if you come across a child left unattended in a car.
Firstly, assess the situation
Temperatures in locked cars can quickly soar to around 40 degrees Celsius higher than the outside temperature. This means you will need to make a quick assessment of how hot the interior of the car may be and how long the child may have been in there. How hot is the exterior temperature? Is the child visibly hot? Are they red and perspiring? Are they responsive? Remember, even a car parked under shelter can become incredibly hot on a summer's day.
Secondly, act to get the child out of the car
If the weather is cold and the child doesn't appear red or to be perspiring, then you can call a mobile locksmith to come and open the car so that the child can be removed from the vehicle. Mobile locksmiths will always prioritise this type of situation over other call outs they have.
If the weather is warm and the child appears to be suffering from heatstroke or is visibly distressed, then you should break the window of the car. In this scenario, the interior heat may be in excess of 70 degrees Celsius. Getting the child out immediately may be the difference between life, permanent brain damage, and death.
Always break the window that is furthest away from the child to avoid injuring them with broken glass. This is one situation where it is legal to damage another person's property without being in danger of committing a criminal offence.
Thirdly, call the police
Whether the child has been left in the car by accident or deliberately, the police will need to attend the scene. They can then make an assessment on whether the parent or guardian responsible for the child has committed a crime or if they have made a terrible mistake. The police will also need you to make a statement, especially if it was necessary for you to break a window to remove the child from the car.
Make sure you make a note of the make, model, and registration number of the car as soon as possible. This way, if the parent or guardian returns and leaves the scene before the police arrive, then you will be able to give the police the details they need to pursue their inquiry.
This kind of situation can too easily end in tragedy. Knowing how to react quickly and appropriately to remove the child from danger may save their life.