31 January, 2020   By: Kirsty Petrides

There are few things more stressful than accidentally locking your child or pet in the car. And that stress is heightened if it happens during a hot WA summer, when the temperature inside the car can rise rapidly in a short space of time.

With advancing vehicle technology like keyless entry and self-locking doors, experiencing an accidental lock-out is upsettingly common. RAC will come to your rescue, but there are a few crucial things you need to ensure you do.

Make a call before trying to get in to the car yourself

Time is critical, so it is important to first make a call to either emergency services or RAC so help can be deployed immediately. Once you’ve made the call and help is on the way, you can try to break in yourself if you choose.

  • When to call RAC: If a life is not yet in danger, call us on 13 11 11. We will treat a child locked in a car as a priority job and get there as soon as possible. An RAC membership is not required – we will come to you regardless of whether you are a member or not.
  • When to call 000: Is a life in danger? If it is an exceptionally hot day, or your child or pet has or is losing consciousness, contact emergency services on 000. Unlike emergency services, the RAC’s Roadside Assistance Patrols are not trained to provide medical assistance and cannot speed to a location or have flashing lights to signal emergency. So if life is at risk, contact the people who can get to you the quickest and have medical help.
Once help is on the way, stay with your vehicle so our Patrols can find you easily

Have all the details ready

To get to you quicker, we need the correct details straight away, including your exact location and the car make and model. Giving us this information will save valuable time by our Patrols being able to find you easily. It will also help them start thinking about how they will get inside your car, as different car types require different methods of forced entry. Some cars cannot even be broken into by our Patrols and require emergency services to attend.

Stay with your car

Once we are on the way, stay with your vehicle. If you leave your car to go find help and our Patrol arrives while you’re gone, it will take longer for them to find you.

Ask others to help rather than leaving

If you want to try to break into the car yourself while you are waiting for help to arrive, don’t leave your car to find something to break in with – if it’s possible, ask a passer-by to find something for you instead.

Try to stay calm so our Patrol can properly assess the situation

Wave at us when we arrive

When you see the RAC Patrol van approaching, if it is safe to do so, wave to the driver to identify yourself and your vehicle. This will help them easily spot you so they can get to you quicker.

Once your Patrol arrives, try to stay calm

This is of course a highly stressful time for a parent or pet-owner, but it’s also stressful for our Patrol. Staying calm will help them properly assess the situation, concentrate completely on the task at hand, and ultimately get into your car quicker.

What to do if you're in a remote area

Western Australia is a big place and there may be locations within our state where RAC can’t get a Patrol out to you quickly enough. If you accidentally lock your child or pet in the car while you’re in a remote regional location, call emergency services on 000 right away.

Tips to prevent it happening in the first place

Keep your keys on you

Some cars have an auto-lock function, so ensure you have your keys on you at all times when you’re out of the vehicle. Avoid throwing them on to the car seat, placing them down inside the boot or popping them on the dashboard while you load up groceries, unpack the pram or pull out the baby bag.

Don’t give your child car keys to play with, and keep keys out of reach

It can be tempting to give young children something shiny to play with while you load groceries into the boot, but it can result in them accidentally locking themselves in the car. Keep a toy in the backseat which you can give them instead while you keep your keys on you.

Avoid giving your child car keys to play with

Invest in a coil-band key chain

If you don’t happen to be wearing clothing with pockets, keeping your keys on you can be hard. Invest in a stretchable coil-band key chain so you can pop the band over your wrist as soon as you take the keys out of the ignition, and have them on you at all times.

Put a physical reminder on your dash

Place an item – even just a brightly coloured post-it note - somewhere in the driver’s line of sight to remind you to grab your keys on your way out of the car. That way, you’ll help avoid accidentally leaving them sitting in the ignition.

Have a ‘one door open’ rule

Make a habit of keeping at least one car door open – or at least a little bit ajar – the whole time you have a child in the car. Then once you’ve removed your child from the car, shut all the doors again.

We rescue 440 WA kids accidentally locked in cars each year

To avoid an accidental lock in, remember to keep your keys on you. 

Find out more

Image credit: Kidspot