ER24 have urged parents not to leave their children unattended in parked cars after a three-year-old toddler was rescued from a car left in the harsh sun at a Johannesburg shopping centre on Saturday afternoon.
“On Saturday afternoon, shortly before 4pm, paramedics from ER24 attended to an incident at a retail centre in Strubensvalley in Roodepoort where a three-year-old was left unattended in a car in the parking lot,” ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said.
“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 was believed that the boy was left in the car for an hour while the parents were inside the shopping centre. The parents returned to the car while paramedics were 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 was understood that they would follow up with the parents next week, Vermaak said.
“Children will suffer more than adults. The reason for this is that their body surface is different to those of adults and their auto-regulation is not as effective as a healthy adult. 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 and may result in death.
“A motor vehicle is a metal box that can act as an oven when parked in direct sunlight or high temperatures. Extreme temperature can change a child’s life in a matter of minutes,” Vermaak said.
ER24 paramedics advised 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 accidentally 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 life of the child; and
– children who were successfully removed from a vehicle after being left unattended in the heat should undergo a medical examination to determine if they had any signs or symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke.