OBERON, Central West NSW, Australia - The incident of a child being left unattended in a car in Oberon on Friday has highlighted the risks of this type of incident, which is highly common.
In New South Wales alone, police are called to up to 2,000 incidents each year involving a child left alone in a vehilce.
The latest incident on Friday was when Chifley Police District responded to a call that a young child had been seen by a member of the public locked in the rear seat of a car on Oberon Road at Oberon, in the state's Central West.
Police on arrival found the child unsupervised and despite efforts were unable to gain a response from outside the vehicle.
Due to the conditions, officers forced entry via a window.
A short time later, a 22-year-old woman arrived and unlocked the car.
The three-year-old girl was checked by NSW Ambulance personnel and was not taken to hospital.
"It is illegal to leave a child unattended in a car where they might be in distress or their health is in danger," a statement by the NSW Transport Department said.
"A temperature of a car can reach high temperatures inside the car even if it is not what one would consider hot outside," the children's advocacy group Seriously Kids says.
"The temperature in a car can reach 46 degrees inside while it was just 22 outside."
"There are a few non-negotiable 'rules' when you have kids and leaving a child in a car hits as one of them. There is also law which defines the fact that we should care for the child in our care. Anyone at the time that has parental responsibility of a child has a duty, by law, to provide children in their care with the 'necessities of life', which includes providing financial support, food, clothing, accommodation, healthcare and access to education," Seriously Kids says.
"There are many examples that make it to the news of children being left unattended in cars. There was a mother who had left her 8 month old in the car in freezing temperatures to go hunting! On another occasion a man in Victoria previously had left his two sons, both under the age of five, in a car while he placed a bet at the pub. Or a dad in Melbourne's east left four children under the age of 10 unattended while he went into a bottle shop to buy alcohol. There was also a case of a baby boy who was left in the car and died in the front of the day care centre? Or there was the mum who left her child in the car to go shopping (can't miss those Boxing Day sales!). That mother is being charged with an offence called 'unattended child'."
"A mother from Bendigo was committed to stand trial on a charge of manslaughter after she left her five month old baby daughter in a car for 2 hours," the advocacy group says.
Another group, Kidsafe, which works in conjunction with the NRMA elaborates on why it is dangerous to leave kids unattended in cars:
On a typical Australian summer day, the temperature inside a parked car can be as much as 30 degrees to 40 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.
Imagine even on day of approximately 20 degrees, the temperature inside a closed car could be up to 60 degrees!
According to health experts, one of the most dangerous factors during excessively hot weather is the addition of humidity. Children do not tolerate the heat as well as adults as their bodies generate more heat relative to their size than adults do. They also lose more fluids because they have a greater proportion of skin surface in relation to their size.
Always ensure that children travelling in cars are not overheating and have adequate fluid intake.
Leaving a child in a car can be extremely dangerous, so never leave children alone in a car. Click here to download a copy of the Kids in Cars brochure. Kids in cars brochure is also available in the following languages: Arabic / Chinese / Korean / Vietnamese