As temperatures soar across the nation, a new alert has been issued by authorities in relation to vulnerable people with disabilities being left in cars during heat waves after two recent near-misses.
The alert comes from New South Wales (NSW) Ombudsman Michael Barnes as some states across Australia are expected to hit a top of 41 degrees over the next few days, and after two cases of people with disabilities being left in hot cars that Mr Barnes says could have “easily ended in tragedy” had the public, and police, not promptly intervened.
In one of the recent cases, it was found that a person with disability was locked in a vehicle at around midday for at least 50 minutes when the temperature was 38 degrees, leading to hospitalisation to manage levels of distress and other health risks.
Mr Barnes says his alert is timely given the two close-calls and the anticipated “extreme temperatures”.
“The community is increasingly aware of the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles,” he says.
“However, it is important for people to recognise that this type of neglect can expose vulnerable adults with disabilities to the same risks of dehydration, heat stroke and even death.”
Royal Automobile Association (RAA) spokesperson Mark Borlace has also made a stand against leaving people, especially those with disabilities, in a car saying the association responds to “hundreds” of calls to rescue people and animals from locked cars every year.
“High temperatures have dangerous effects… it is extremely unsafe to leave anyone inside a parked car, especially in the summer heat,” he says.
“On a 30 degree day, temperatures within a parked car can reach around 70 degrees - even on cooler days you can’t be complacent, as cars can still get dangerously hot on a 25 degree day.”
Mr Borlace recommends that if you do accidentally lock someone in a parked car, it is important to “act quickly and try to remain as calm as possible” so as not to distress the person inside.
NSW Ombudsman Mr Barnes has also given his own warning and advice calling on the public to be vigilant and take action “when necessary” by calling 000, or in the case of an emergency, taking steps to open the vehicle.