Shortly before 4pm today (Saturday 6 January), paramedics from ER24 attended to an incident at a retail centre in Roodepoort where a three-year-old was left unattended in a car in the parking lot.
ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak reports that an off-duty paramedic from ER24 passed the car and heard the child crying. He noticed that a window was partially open and managed to unlock the door. He called ER24 and the police to attend the scene. Management of the retail centre provided water for the little boy. The off-duty paramedic explained that the child and car were extremely hot and he was sweating severely. Paramedics assessed the little boy and monitored his vital signs before he was returned to the care of the parents.
It is believed that the boy was left in the car for an hour while the parents were inside the retail centre. The parents returned to the car while paramedics were busy assessing him. According to the parents, they left the boy in the car as he was sleeping at the time.
Police attended the scene and interviewed the parents. It is understood that they will follow up with the parents next week.
In severe heat children will suffer more than adults. The reason for this is that their body surface is different to that of adults and their auto-regulation is not as effective as an adult’s. Usually the effects will show much later in children but it will progress faster and be more severe.
Excessive exposure to heat may result in children suffering seizures or brain damage. If this condition is not corrected immediately the child can go into heat stroke or heat exhaustion. This may result in death.
A motor vehicle is in fact a “metal box” that can act as an oven when parked in direct sunlight or high temperatures.
ER24 Paramedics advise on the following:
- Under no circumstances should you leave your child (or pet) in a vehicle, even if a window is left open and you know you will only be away for a few minutes.
- Always make sure that your children have left the car with you when you arrive at your destination to avoid accidently locking them inside the vehicle.
- If you notice a child in a vehicle, immediately try to locate the parents or owner of the vehicle and contact the Police (10111) or Emergency Medical Services (084124). Taking immediate action could save the child’s life.
Children that were successfully removed from a vehicle after being left unattended in the heat should undergo a medical examination in order to determine if they have any signs or symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke.