Mike Stevens | Nov 12, 2009

AS VICTORIA battles through its longest November heatwave in 80 years, the RACV is urging motorists not to leave children and pets inside locked vehicles.

Between November 2008 and November this year, 1543 calls were made to the RACV to rescue children and young babies from locked vehicles - 57 more than the previous 12 months.

The RACV's Brian Negus said it was "extremely disappointing" that so many motorists have yet to grasp the dangers of locking their children in a parked car.

“Experts are predicting another hot, dry summer. People may think it is okay to leave children in a car for a short time as they run an errand but by doing so they are creating a life-threatening situation for that child," Mr Negus said.

“In these extreme temperatures, the interior of a stationary vehicle - even when parked in the shade - can become a death trap with temperatures skyrocketing to a lethal 60 degrees within minutes regardless of whether windows are left open."

According to RACV tests, a vehicle's cabin temperature can rocket from an air-conditioned 19 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees in just one minute.

In another seven minutes, the temperature can reach 40 degrees.

Mr Negus said that in those conditions, a child can become seriously ill or die within minutes from heatstroke or dehydration.

In Queensland, the RACQ's Steve Spalding said that lighter-coloured cars fared no better than dark cars, with tests showing peak temperatures of 57 degrees Celsius for light cars and 60 degrees for dark cars.

Mr Spalding said that leaving the windows down is no help either.

“From ambient temperature, the critical 40 degree mark was reached in only a matter of minutes, even with the windows down 45mm,” Mr Spalding said.

“Windows up, windows down. Dark car, light car. Fitted with sunshade or tinted windows. It doesn’t matter: the temperature inside can quickly get above 40 degrees and children are at serious risk."

In December last year, the RACQ responded to 116 call-outs to rescue trapped children from locked vehicles.

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