Image Credit: WAM

Umm Al Quwain: A five-year-old Emirati girl died on Friday evening after her grandmother forgot her in the car for almost two hours while she was visiting a friend in Umm Al Quwain, Colonel Khamis Salem Buharoon, Director of Umm Al Quwain Police, said.

The incident happened in front of the house of the grandmother’s friend.

The child was buried at the Umm Al Quwain graveyard at 10.30pm, Buharoon said.

The grandmother went to visit her friend with three of her grandchildren, including the one who dead. The two other children asked their grandmother for permission to buy something from the nearest supermarket. The grandmother thought that the third child had gone with them and locked the car and went inside her friend’s house, Buharoon said.

The children returned and told the grandmother that the five-year-old girl was sleeping inside the car. They rushed to the car to find the girl motionless; the child was pronounced dead at the site, Buharoon said.

“The child suffocated due to the high temperature inside the car,” Buharoon said. Police have ruled out foul play in the incident.

This is the second such incident in less than a week in the UAE. On July 2, a three-year-old Emirati boy died after his family forgot him in the car for almost four hours in front of their house in Kalba.

Buharoon urged all guardians to be careful during summer and not to leave their wards inside vehicles.

But it is not only during summer that children may die of suffocation when left alone in a locked vehicle.

“Death due to suffocation or lack of oxygen inside a car can happen in any climate, even during winter. But in this part of the world, cases like this occur mostly during summer months,” Dr Kassim Rawther, a physican who specialises in internal medicine at Aster Medical Centre, told Gulf News.

An closed car is potentially lethal to a child regardless of the temperature outside as the temperature inside the car increases within minutes. A 2008 study by the University of Western Australia said that temperatures in parked cars may reach up to 25 degrees Celsius more than the temperature outside the car on a typical sunny day. This means leaving a child inside a car in the UAE during summer months exposes him to up to 60 degrees Celsius heat.

“The child’s body surface area is smaller and as such will not be able to regulate heat as well as adult bodies do. In the first couple of minutes, the child will sweat profusely because of the heat. But the sweat glands will eventually be in shock after prolonged exposure to heat,” Dr Rawther said, adding that the child may fall unconscious and die within minutes.

Besides heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the child may also be exposed to toxic chemicals released by car upholstery when exposed to too much heat in contained spaces.

To avoid such tragedies, parents or guardians must make sure that all the passengers, including pets, have left the car before locking it.