Unmindful of the fatal risk involved, many parents blissfully leave their children locked in cars. A study by Royal Oman Police (ROP) found that 18 per cent of the parents leave their children inside closed vehicles, neglecting the fact that their children might get suffocated. “Some parents think it is not harmful to leave the child inside the car while the car is running and the air-conditioning is on. This would cause them another danger,” warns the ROP. It is not safe because leaving the engine running allows a child to open the power windows with the opportunity of falling out of the car.
In 2017, six children died of suffocation in Oman after being left in locked vehicles.
Even there were incidents that a parent forgot his two-year-old son in the car outside his home.
Lack of oxygen
Reports indicate that in every case the child died after inhaling poisonous carbon monoxide gas caused by lack of oxygen in the vehicle.
“Eighteen per cent of children are knowingly left in the car, while the rest are forgotten in the vehicle by the driver or parents,” the ROP study points out. According to medical records of three children who were entrapped inside vehicles in Oman a few years back in Oman, they were found to have heat stroke. A report in Oman Medical Journal quoting medical records pointed out that vehicular entrapment heat stroke is one of the preventable brain injuries in children.
“Several children get entrapped in cars or other vehicles yearly and survivors are left with significant brain damage,” says the report. The usual cause for brain damage is heat stroke. The lesson learned was to never leave children unattended in cars.
“Therefore, it is essential to double check that doors are locked when leaving children unattended near vehicles,” urges the report.
In some cases, young children do copy their parents, so they can hop into the driver’s seat and release the handbrake put the car into neutral allowing it to roll. This can cause harm to the child, pedestrians and other motorists.
If the car is not running, it is extremely fatal. The temperature in a car rises rapidly in the first 30 minutes, even on a cool day. Additionally, leaving the car windows open or cracking them open does not allow enough air into the vehicle.
Sitting position dangerous
A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body. Children have a lot of body surface area that absorbs heat. Children’s bodies have not yet developed the ability to cool down well, and when the child is tightly strapped into the car seat not allowing him to move freely, it is even worse. ROP also warns that leaving the toddlers to sleep in the “sitting position” could put their lives to danger as the child might slips from the seat into a position that would cause them suffocation.
Parents should realise that the safety of their children is their responsibility. A person might think he would never forget his child in the back, but it can happen to anyone.