With the El Niño weather pattern bringing a hotter and drier summer to New Zealand, the AA is reminding Kiwis to never leave pets or children locked in a parked car.
The warning comes following the tragedy over the weekend in Queensland which saw two young boys die in a locked car from suspected heat-related stress.
Across January to October 2023, AA Roadservice has responded to 800 emergency callouts for children or pets locked in vehicles, more than 200 in Auckland alone. In previous years, the callouts have peaked at around 40-50+ a month during hot summers.
AA Chief Mobility Officer Jonathan Sergel says the AA is no stranger to these types of callouts.
“People underestimate how deadly the sun can be, even in summers without El Niño.
“People may try to mitigate the effects of the heat by cracking open their windows, parking their car in the shade, or think if their car isn’t black then it won’t get as hot. On a summer’s day, none of these techniques are going to make your car any safer.
“Temperatures in cars can double that of outside and heat stroke will set in very quickly for any passengers.”
Jonathan says although many of these callouts are for accidents when someone has locked their keys in the car, or even occasionally a dog has jumped on the central locking system, it’s disappointing to still get calls from concerned members of the public who have found someone’s pet or child suffering in a hot car.
“Our Roadservice Officers hate to see pets or children helpless and uncomfortable in these situations. People need to realise the heat generated inside a car can be life threatening and it doesn’t take long for tragedy to strike.
“The message is simple really, don’t leave your kids or pets in your vehicle, even if you’re just nipping into the supermarket.”
What to do if you see a child or pet suffering in a hot car
Call the AA, and the Police or SPCA immediately. There must be someone present at the scene to take responsibility for the vehicle/child/pet.
The AA immediately prioritises any calls involving children or pets locked inside a vehicle. A Roadservice Officer will arrive at the scene free-of-charge, regardless of whether the person is an AA Member or not.
To call the AA for emergency lockout assistance, call 0800 500 222 or -222 from mobile phones.