Parents should never leave their young children unattended in a car, even for a few minutes. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai Police’s Search and Rescue Department responded to 86 cases of children stuck in vehicles in the first nine months of this year, a decrease of 90 during the same time period in 2015, a top official said.

Lt Col Ahmad Burqibah, deputy director of the Search and Rescue Department, said this is a minor decrease, but the issue still persists.

Of the 86 children rescued, 82 were under the age of five, and four were between six and 12 years old. There were also 92 cases of children stuck in elevators or rooms in the first nine months of this year. Last year, 97 children were stuck in elevators or rooms.

“Parents should never leave their young children unattended in a car, even for a few minutes. Children like to imitate their parents, and they will play around and they can lock themselves in or, even worse, move the car,” he said.

He said people hear stories of children being locked in cars, but never think it can happen to them, so they take warnings lightly.

In the same period this year, the rescue team handled 225 cases of people trapped in elevators or in rooms compared to 231 last year.

However, there was a significant jump in people locked in vehicles in 2016 from 2015, with 533 cases compared to 368.

One case attended to by the rescue department was on October 6 at 11.14pm, when a 31-year-old GCC national called saying he was trapped in his car. “It was a technical malfunction that led to the car switching off completely and locking him inside. The car stopped in an intersection on Al Marsa Street in the Dubai Marina area.”

He said the man called the police, and the operations room sent a traffic patrol that was in the area to secure the location so no one would hit the car until the rescue team arrived. The rescue team broke the glass and took him out.

On October 3, the department handled multiple cases involving children and an adult being locked in.

At 9.40pm, the operations room received a call about two children aged two and four, who locked themselves in a room in Al Barsha South.

A team arrived in four minutes, and broke the lock using a special drill and took out the children. They were unharmed.

On the same day, two European children, three months old and two years old, were trapped in a car on Al Thanaya Road.

“The father reported the incident around 6.25pm. He had left them in the car for a few minutes and they locked themselves in. The team broke the windshield and took them out,” he said, adding that they were unharmed.

Also on October 3, a one-year-old girl locked herself inside a car. The car was parked at Mirdif City Centre.

The operations room received a call at 5.40pm about a 37-year-old Asian man who had health problems being locked inside his home.

“The team broke the door and the man was found unconscious in his home on the same day. An ambulance took him to the hospital for treatment,” he said.

Lt Col Burqibah advised parents of young children not to leave room keys in locks. “They should put the keys somewhere out of the reach of their children. It is also advisable to make a master key that can open all locks in a safe place, so it can be used in such times of emergency,” he noted.

If a child locks him/herself in a room, parents should not panic. “When the parents panic, they scare the child. Instead they should talk to the child calmly and try to guide them to open the locked door,” he said.

At the same time, he said, they should call the police just in case the child is unable to open the door. “While waiting for rescue to arrive, parents should keep talking to the child and keep them calm. If the children are too young or unable to open the door they should ask them to sit in a place, away from the door, until help arrives,” Lt Col Burqibah said.

If the child opens the door before the police come, parent should call police and let them know so they do not send the rescue team.


Safety tips


• Call the emergency and rescue number as soon as you find out a child is locked inside the car.

• Do not panic, as any sign of you panicking may scare the child further.

• Try to cover the car from direct sunlight, in order to maintain the temperature inside.

• If the emergency responders are taking a longer time to arrive, the best intervention is to break the glass

• Target the side window glass farthest from the child to avoid glass shards hitting the child.

• Use any small pointed object or stone to hit the glass with just enough force.