Locking son in hot car a lesson for all

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2013

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Crying and panicking, Jaquie Brown watched helplessly as her 3-year-old son sweated inside a sweltering-hot locked car.

A lapse in concentration while she had been dealing with son Leo's tantrum led to the potentially deadly situation. The TV presenter is now warning other parents to avoid the same heart-stopping fear.

She was collecting Leo from daycare last week and, thinking it would be a quick trip, she left her phone at home - a "rookie mistake", she said.

"I'd let him unlock the car with the keys and he was playing with them, but when I needed to take them back from him he had a massive tantrum."

Leo was being "somewhat challenging" for his eight-months-pregnant mother. She took the keys from him and chucked them on the passenger seat before finally getting him into the car seat.

"He was really going for it by now so I closed his door, giving him a moment to calm down."

That's when she realised the car was locked. The windows were up. Her son was in the car seat and the keys were inside.

"I had no way of getting them and Leo was trapped in the boiling car. I had no phone and I panicked."

Leo was overheating fast, sweat was dripping down his face, and she said she had no idea how to get him out. Luckily some other mothers came to the rescue and called the AA and the Fire Service.

Within a few minutes two fire engines arrived, sirens blazing.

Leo had been in the car for about 30 minutes by the time he was rescued. "I was so relieved.

"He was fine and was quite excited to have been rescued. It could have been a lot worse. The emergency services knew the urgency of having a kid locked in a hot car with the windows closed, which is why they moved on it so fast, thankfully."

If emeregency services had not arrived within 15 minutes, she said she would have resorted to breaking a window.

She is now pushing the same safety message as the AA and Fire Service this summer: remain vigilant because mistakes happen so quickly, she said.

"Always prepare for the worst-case scenario, check and double check. Keep your phone on you. And don't let your kid play with the car keys."

It is one of many incidents of kids being locked in cars recently. In the most serious case, a child passed out from the heat after being locked in a car in Wellington last month. Firefighters rescued the unconscious 3-year-old.

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- Sunday Star Times

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