THE state government has launched a new campaign with the help of AFL legend Matthew Richardson to again highlight the danger of children locked in vehicles.
Ambulance Victoria responded to 1,696 callouts regarding people locked in vehicles across the state in the 12 months to August 31, with the vast majority being toddlers and babies.
Mr Richardson, who became a dad to baby Zoey in September, last week joined Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos and Member for Preston Robin Scott to officially launch the campaign.
On average, four children a day are being put at risk of serious heat-related injury or death by being left unattended in parked cars.
A car’s temperature can more than double within minutes, meaning on a typical summer day the temperature inside a parked car can quickly become 20-30 degrees hotter than outside.
A child’s body temperature rises three-to-five-times faster than an adult’s, meaning they are at greater risk of life-threatening heatstroke, dehydration and organ damage when left in the car.
The Never Leave Kids in Cars campaign includes radio and online advertising, as well as billboards around shopping centres and social media messages.
In Victoria, it is against the law to leave children unattended, with offenders facing fines of up to $3,900 or jail for six months, or both.
According to Ambulance Victoria data, Werribee was the suburb with the highest number of callouts (43), followed by Narre Warren (42), Tarneit (41) and Pakenham (38).
“There’s no excuse and no exceptions – our most precious valuables, our children, should never be left in the car,” Ms Mikakos said.
“Hot summer days can kill, and even on a milder day in the mid-20s, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can easily get to 20 to 30 degrees hotter than outside.
“Don’t let a moment of complacency or frustration put your loved ones at risk – always take them with you.”