x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dozens die yearly from suffocating in vehicles

Child deaths and injuries from accidents increase by 2000 per cent in the past seven years, say emergency officials.

Abu Dhabi // Aatish Shabin was just one of dozens of children who have died after being left unattended in vehicles in Abu Dhabi over the past seven years, according to statistics from emergency officials. Colonel Othman Usef al Tamai, director of emergency and public safety at the general headquarters of Abu Dhabi Police, said 120 children had suffocated inside vehicles during that period. The temperature inside a closed car can be 20 degrees higher than outside. With temperatures reaching 50°C during the summer months in Abu Dhabi, the risk to children left inside vehicles is obvious.

"The negligence and lack of supervision of children at home, inside vehicles, swimming pools and high-rise buildings are also of serious concern," said Col Tamai. The release of the statistics coincides with the launch of a campaign to raise public awareness of child safety. Abu Dhabi officials said the number of accidents in which children were hurt or died at home or in pools, parks and vehicles had risen nearly 2,000 per cent since 2001.

Major Sultan Hassan al Housani, head of the ambulance section, said there had been 45 cases of children swallowing coins and similar objects during the past year, which he attributed to a lack of supervision. Dr Usef Al Housani, public health and community safety expert at the Zayed military hospital, said Ministry of Health statistics showed that children accounted for 13 per cent of deaths between 2000 and 2005. More than half died in traffic accidents, with 13 per cent swallowing foreign bodies, eight per cent falling to their death, seven per cent drowning and five per cent suffering fatal burns.