Data shows number of children and pets locked in cars as heatwave hits

21 February, 2023

RAA is urging drivers to be extra careful during this week’s heatwave, as figures reveal the staggering number of children and animals that needed rescuing from locked cars last year in South Australia.

RAA Road Service data shows a total of 514 kids and pets needed to be freed from locked vehicles by RAA patrols in 2022. Of the 514 callouts, 284 were children.

So far this summer there have been 44 children rescued from locked cars by RAA – equating to more than one every two days.

RAA Senior Manager Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain said cars can quickly heat up to more than double the outside temperature.

“Don’t be tempted under any circumstances to leave children or animals unattended in a parked vehicle – especially not in this weather,” Mr Mountain said.

“It’s important to be aware of where your keys are at all times, to avoid accidentally leaving them in the vehicle which can be easy to do now that many modern cars have keyless entry.

“During heat waves like the one we’re experiencing this week, it’s even more vital because the temperature inside a locked car will climb to dangerous levels within minutes.”

It doesn’t take long

The data comes following a recent RAA experiment which revealed in-car temperatures rose to more than 80 degrees within 20 minutes when left in the sun.

The experiment also showed that white cars – often considered to attract less heat than darker coloured vehicles – still rose to more than 70 degrees in the same period.

The internal temperature of a car after 20 minutes in the sun

Mr Mountain said just a few minutes of exposure to this kind of heat can cause significant harm to a child.

“Parking in the shade or winding down windows doesn’t make much difference either.

“If you do find yourself in a situation with a child or pet in a locked car, act quickly and try to remain as calm as possible so you don’t distress your child.”

RAA provides priority service to any callout involving a child or animal locked in a vehicle. An RAA membership is not required.

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