AS temperatures reach extreme across the state today, Children and Early Childhood Development Minister Wendy Lovell has warned parents about the dangers of leaving young children in hot cars.
The warning comes in the days leading up to Christmas, the busiest shopping period of the year.
Ms Lovell said leaving children in the car, even for a short period of time, can be fatal.
“During busy shopping periods, it can be easy for parents to get caught up in the rush and forget they have their children in the car, especially if they’re asleep in the back seat," she said.
”But simple mistakes can lead to tragic results.”
Ms Lovell said the temperature inside a parked car during summer can be up to 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.
Even leaving a window slightly open does little to cool the temperature inside the car.
“Young children’s smaller body size and their underdeveloped nervous system places them at a much greater risk of life-threatening heatstroke, dehydration and other health risks than older children or adults,” she said.
“The message is clear – if you are travelling with a child in a car and you need to leave, even for just one minute, make sure you take the child with you.”
In the past 12 months, paramedics were called to more than 1,100 cases of children locked in cars across Victoria, an increase of almost 200 from the previous year.
Victorian legislation makes leaving a child unattended in a car a criminal offence, with penalties ranging from fines of $2165 or three months in prison.
Kidsafe Victoria Vice President Robert Caulfield said two thirds of calls were to car parks, streets or public places.
“We would urge anyone who sees a baby or a toddler alone in a parked car to raise the alarm and call emergency services,” he said.
Following a number of child deaths and several years of Kidsafe campaigning, Victorian legislation now makes leaving a child unattended in a car a criminal offence.
Information for parents and carers about the impact of leaving a child in a hot car is available on the Kidsafe website at www.kidsafevic.com.au