A New Zealand-based parenting NGO is reminding parents not to leave children alone in cars after the latest incident in Porirua.
Passers-by spotted a 17-month old child left alone in a car at a Porirua supermarket earlier this week. When rescued by police, the toddler was crying and covered in vomit, according to a news report.
Sergeant Maurice Parker told media a window was wound down, but the car was heating up in the sun.
“It’s never safe to leave a child alone in a vehicle, even for a short time. Babies, particularly newborns, can dehydrate quickly and become very distressed.”
In New Zealand, it is illegal for a parent or guardian to leave a child under the age of 14 alone for an unreasonable time or in unreasonable conditions. Doing so could result in a fine of up to $2000.
People have been prosecuted for leaving children in cars in the past, says a police spokesperson. “But equally, short of prosecution, they may well be referred to Child, Youth and Family.”
Instances of children left alone in cars have resulted in casualties not just in New Zealand, but in many other countries.
“In the U.S. this year there has been a total of 23 children that have died from heat stroke inside vehicles and two in Canada,” says Amber Rollins, with Kids and Cars, a U.S. advocacy group, reported a Canadian media outlet. “In the U.S., children have died from heat stroke in vehicles on days when the temperature was in the lower 60s.”
What to do if you see a child left unattended
“The first step is to call 911, explain exactly what is happening and do what they tell you – they might tell you to break the window,” says Toronto EMS spokesperson Kim McKinnon. “If you can’t call 911, get them out of the car as quickly as possible.”
Keep your child safe
Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don’t overlook sleeping babies. (Source: Washington Post)
Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
Keep a stuffed animal in the carseat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver. Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.