AA rescues seven children locked in cars every day in the UK
Drivers are being urged to take care not to accidentally – or deliberately even for a moment - leave people or pets alone in the car this summer.
The warning comes as the AA reveals it rescues on average seven* children locked in cars every day.
The AA is called upon to retrieve over twice as many children as pets from locked cars, attending around 213 call-outs per month to free toddlers who have become trapped alone inside the car – often a consequence of central locking when little ones get hold of the keys.
The number of children locked in cars each year is in steady decline, with a 6% drop in call-outs of this type in January-June 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, and 10% fewer in the first six months of 2016 than 2015.
But it’s a different story with pets. The number of animals left in cars is rising, with 16% more calls to rescue drivers’ furry friends from vehicles in the first half of 2016 compared with the same period last year.
The data reveals a seasonal pattern of pets trapped in cars during the summer, coinciding with school holidays, with numbers consistently reaching a peak in August.
The dangers are obvious; you only have to touch the dashboard or seats to know how hot the inside of a car can get
Edmund King OBE, AA President
Edmund King OBE, AA President, said: “Children becoming locked in the car is usually accidental, but leaving a pet in the car is often done by choice. The dangers are obvious; you only have to touch the dashboard or seats to know how hot the inside of a car can get.
“Children, pets and the elderly are particularly vulnerable as they are less able to cope with high temperatures and may not recognise the symptoms of heat-related illness such as dehydration.
“But it's not just warm days that can present a risk: vehicle glass behaves like a greenhouse which means in sunshine, temperatures can rise quickly inside even if there’s a chilly breeze blowing. So remember not to leave kids or pets in alone the car, because anything can happen.”
Figures compiled by AA technical experts show that, with in-car temperatures on a hot summer's day rising above 60?C, the countdown to death for a family pet can be measured in minutes. It is at this temperature that an egg starts to pasteurise and at just two degrees higher, the white begins to cook. Even when the outside temperature begins to drop, the heat can still continue to increase for half an hour.
Whenever you travel, but particularly if travelling with children, pets or the elderly, check traffic conditions before you leave and plan an alternative route if necessary, to avoid sitting in queuing traffic for long periods.
Include plenty of comfort stops throughout the journey and allow extra time in case of delays – particularly if you have a ferry or plane to catch.
Try to avoid travelling during the heat of the day and consider using sun blinds on the windows.
(14 July 2016)
* Daily average based on the number of these incidents attended by AA patrols in 2015.