190823 kid left in the car
Kid left in the car alone. (Picture for illustrative purpose only). Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Imagine accidentally leaving your child unattended in a car where temperatures could go up to 30 degrees higher than outside in just 15 minutes.

In recent years, summer heat and parental negligence have killed more than a dozen children in the UAE.

This could have been the fate of a little Asian boy who was left inside his parent’s car in Al Nahda on Sunday night, if it wasn’t for Sharjah Police who managed to rescue him just in time.

To educate motorists on the dangers of forgetting their children inside locked cars and to prevent further deaths, GMC rolled out the “Forgotten Toy” campaign on Tuesday.

The campaign features a video showing what happens to a wax toy when left inside a car in the heat.

The 71-second video showed a woman parking her car and rushing to a shop. A “child” in the form of a wax toy was shown sitting at the back seat as a metaphorical representation of these dangers to portray the severity of leaving children alone in cars.

Watch what happens if you leave a child inside a hot car GMC 'Forgotten Toy' campaign

“We also share a responsibility to shed light on critical and life-threatening issues like this one,” said Daniella D’Souza, Head of Brand - GMC Middle East. “Everyone has a role to play to deliver safety and we hope our loyal and growing community around the region joins us in raising awareness around the risks attached to the hazardous habit of leaving children unattended in cars by sharing our “Forgotten Toy” campaign and spreading the message,” she added.

Summers can be brutal in the country. Maximum temperatures could reach 40 degrees Celsius even in coastal areas such as Dubai. But it’s worse inside a parked car with no air conditioning as the mercury could rise quickly to unbearable ranges.

Studies have shown that children’s bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults because their bodies’ surface area is smaller compared to adults, which makes it harder for them to regulate heat.

The negative effects of extreme temperatures on children can result in vehicular heatstroke, dehydration and suffocation that can be fatal, paediatricians have warned time and again.

In the video, temperatures inside and outside the vehicle were compared, showing the rapid rise in temperature inside the vehicle in just a matter of minutes.

The wax toy’s face began to melt after eight minutes of being left in the car. At the nine-minute mark, the mercury had shot up to 54C inside the car while it was 36C outside. Two minutes later, the temperature further rose to 67C.

Though children’s bodies don’t melt, the extreme heat’s effects on the child’s internal organs could be fatal.

How to Prevent Child Deaths in Hot Cars:

  • Keep your purse or mobile phone at the back seat so you will automatically see if there are children in the car when you reach for your belongings.
  • Make sure to “look before you lock” whenever getting out of the car.
  • Keep cars locked when not in use so kids don’t get in on their own. Kids should be taught that cars are not play areas.
  • When your child goes missing, check these three areas first: pool, car, and the trunk.
  • For children found locked in hot cars, call police or rescuers immediately. If the child is still conscious, spray him/her with cold water. Turn on the AC to the highest degree. Administer first aid by putting ice packs under the child’s armpits and on the neck to cool him/her down quickly. If the child is unconscious, while taking the aforementioned steps call an ambulance and if trained, start regular CPR.

Timeline of children left in the vehicles

August 18, 2019 - A little boy is rescued by Sharjah Police, after getting trapped inside his parent’s car in Al Nahda area.

June 28, 2019 - A two-year-old Arab boy is admitted to the ICU of Al Qasimi Hospital in Sharjah, to be treated for suffocation which he suffered inside his father’s car in the garage of their house.

June 15, 2019 - A six-year-old Asian boy dies after he was forgotten inside a bus for several hours in Al Quoz, Dubai.

September 10, 2018 - Abu Dhabi Police rescue a girl who was locked inside her father’s car in Al Bandar area on Yas Island.

February 20, 2018 - Abu Dhabi Police rescue a child who was left alone in a car in Al Bateen area.

September 04, 2017 - A six-year-old Emirati girl dies of suffocation in Abu Dhabi after her parents left her in the car for six hours.

June 04, 2017 - Two Emirati sisters, aged two and four, are died after they were locked accidentally in their father’s car. The incident happened in the family’s residence in Ajman.

July 10, 2014 - A one-and-half-year-old Emirati girl dies in Abu Dhabi after being forgotten in her family’s parked car.

October 7, 2014 - Four-year-old Indian girl dies in Abu Dhabi after being left unattended in a locked school bus for several hours.

May 09, 2014 - A five-year-old boy waiting in a parked car in Sharjah dies after his neck is caught in the car’s automatic window.

June 07, 2013 - A three-year-old Yemeni boy suffocates after being left in his parents’ car for several hours in Ras Al Khaimah.

June 30, 2013 - A three-year-old Emirati boy dies after his family forgets him in the car for almost four hours in Kalba.

July 06, 2012 - A five-year-old Emirati girl dies after her grandmother forgot her in the car for almost two hours while she was visiting a friend in Umm Al Quwain.

May 14, 2009 - Aimen Zeeshan, a four and half year old Pakistani girl dies after allegedly being left locked inside a private school bus in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi.

June 22, 2008 - A four-year-old boy dies after he was left locked in his kindergarten van for three hours in Abu Dhabi.

May 25, 2007 - A four-year-old Emirati girl dies of suffocation as she slept in her father’s car in sizzling temperatures for 45 minutes in Al Ain. She had slipped back inside the car unnoticed as the family hurriedly prepared for Friday prayers.

- Compiled by Gulf News Archives