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The RACT and the RSPCA has urged parents not to leave children or pets in locked cars this summer.

Between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016 the RACT rescued 60 children – and 37 pets – locked in parked car in hot weather.

Executive General Manager Membership & Community Stacey Pennicott said the temperature inside a parked car on a typical summer’s day could be 30 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius hotter than outside the car.

“On a day like today when the forecast temperature in Hobart is 23 degrees Celsius, it means that the temperature inside a car parked in the sun could be as high as 65 degrees Celsius,” she said.

“As the temperature inside a car increases, any child locked in that vehicle can begin to develop heat stress and start to dehydrate.

“In addition, young children are more sensitive to heat than older children or adults, meaning they can be at greater risk of heat stroke and other health risks.

“It is a pretty simple message – if you have to leave the car, even for a short time, take the children with you.”

RSPCA Tasmania Chief Executive Officer Peter West said that a dog left in a hot car, even with windows ajar, could die within six minutes or at least suffer long-lasting effects.

“While it is not illegal to leave an animal in a car or on the back of ute, it is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to leave it in conditions that aren’t appropriate – such as a hot car,” he said.

“RSPCA Tasmania is keen to promote a prevention message, so we’d like all motorists to consider whether they need to take their pets on journeys, especially where they may have to leave the animal in the car, even for a short time.

“These days people are much more vigilant about the welfare of animals in hot cars, which is great, and with widespread social media use, alleged offenders can be instantly infamous.”

Other facts to consider:

  • Darker coloured cars can reach slightly higher temperatures when parked in the sun.
  • The colour of the interior trim has little impact on the speed the temperature inside a car increases.
  • Tinted windows make little difference to the temperature of the interior of a vehicle.
  • A large car can heat up just as quickly as a small car.
  • Having the windows down five centimetres causes only the slightest decrease in temperature.

Mrs Pennicott said if contacted about a child locked in a vehicle, the RACT would immediately obtain the location of the parked car so an RACT Patrol could be arranged to attend as quickly as possible.

“On arrival, we determine if the child is under any stress and try to determine how long they have been in the vehicle,” Mrs Pennicott said.

“We will then make a decision as quickly as possible about the need to involve Tasmania Police or ambulance services if we are worried about the health of the child.”

Ms Pennicott said RACT would attend to non-member vehicles if it was contacted about a child being locked in a car in warm weather.

“We will immediately prioritise a patrol to any vehicle that has a child or animal locked in the car,” she said.