ABU DHABI // A three-year-old boy died after being left in the family car for three hours in 43°C heat.
The Yemeni family had returned to their home in Ras Al Khaimah at 2pm on Friday, after an outing. The little boy was found unconscious in the car three hours later and rushed to Al Dhaid Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Authorities said the cause of death was lack of oxygen.
“Unattended children suffocating inside a car is clear evidence of family negligence and poor judgement of the potential dangers involved,” said Maj Gen Nasser Lakhraibani Al Nuaimi, secretary general of the Ministry of Interior and head of the higher committee for child protection.
He expressed his “deep sorrow” over the incident, and said parents should be cautious about the whereabouts of their children, especially during summer when the heat can be dangerous.
Two Emirati children, a five-year-old girl and a two-year-old Emirati boy, died in separate incidents last July after their families left them in vehicles.
In May 2009, a four-year-old girl died in Abu Dhabi after she was forgotten on a school bus. A similar incident in the capital in 2008 ended with the death of a three-year-old boy.
If a vehicle is parked in direct sunlight, a trapped child can develop life-threatening symptoms within 10 to 20 minutes, said Dr Fakhri Azzam, a specialist paediatrician at the Medcare Medical Centre at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.
“Because there is lack of ventilation in a closed car, the temperature inside and the temperature of the child can rise very sharply, especially if they are exposed to direct sunlight,” he said.
The heat may affect the respiratory control centre in the brain, causing breathing difficulties or a complete stop of breathing activity.
Dr Azzam advised parents to take the issue seriously.
“Never leave children alone and always count numbers in your party as you leave your car - make sure you have everyone before you lock it,” he said.