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Yesterday, attention has been centred on yet another child death brought about as a result of being left unattended in a car. The 12-month-old baby was believed to have suffocated after her father – who was supposed to drop her off at the babysitter – went straight to his workplace in Pekan Saleng, Kulai, leaving her in his car for five hours.

This tragic incident is a stark reminder of the dangers of leaving children in the car unattended, with the door locked – and also how easy it is for a loving parent to be distracted in their routine and not realise that the child is still in the car. And while the cause of death is different this time – suffocation, not heatstroke – it is still dangerous and something that should never have been allowed to happen.

Although a car is not completely airtight – air can still flow in through small gaps such as the air vents – it still isn’t recommended to leave a child in such an enclosed space. Added to that, a child could be poisoned by the carbon dioxide that they breathe out, as the space becomes increasingly saturated in CO2.

Heatstroke is another contributing factor, particularly as a child’s body heats up much faster than an adult’s, according to paediatric emergency experts as reported by NBC News. As the temperature rises, the child could lose consciousness and bodily functions shut down, which may lead to suffocation.

There are other dangers associated with heatstroke – just 15 minutes being stuck in an overheated car interior could cause a child to suffer life-threatening brain or kidney injuries. When a child’s body temperature hits 40 degrees Celsius, internal organs shut down, and at 41.6 degrees Celsius, the child could die.

According to Ahmad Mahyuddin Mohamed, Orthopedic and Traumatology consultant at Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Hospital in Temerloh, there’s no guarantee that a heat stroke can be prevented with slightly opened windows and leaving the air conditioner on in a static car. Children shouldn’t be left alone in a car even for a minute. The heat can cause sweating, dehydration, seizures, brain and organ damage, and eventually death.

Just watch the video to see what happens when a busy mother leaves her young son in a car. The video is a reenactment, and the child is an unharmed actor, but what ensues could very well happen for real.

The mother in the video looks completely normal, and her routine could mirror that of any one of us. According to statistics in the US, only about 10% of child heat stroke-related deaths involve neglect or substance abuse by the caretaker.

Unintended forgetfulness is a far more likely factor. Our busy schedules, combined with the tendency for us to seat our sleeping children in the rear of our cars (because that’s where the child seat is usually mounted), could cause us to forget that we are carrying precious cargo in our car cabins. We could potentially go about our routine and leave our kids locked in the car.

Other than trying our very best to remember, other methods we can use to ensure that we don’t forget about our sleeping babies is to place an item (that you need to take with you when you leave your car) at the rear with the child. This could be your handbag or phone, for example, and you can place it on the floor in a secure area just so you are forced to go to the back of the car when you leave.

To passersbys, if you spot a child left in a car alone, you should call the police immediately. If you watched the video, you’d know that the child in the video was saved by passersby. You can also share this story or the embedded YouTube video on your Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms to get the word out. You might just save a life.