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Food for thought

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  12 Sep 2015 12:00 AM GMT

There was a tragic incident in Gurgaon in Harya recently that could as well have occurred here. Two little girls, one a four-year old and the other her two-year old sister, were playing inside their family car when they locked themselves in suddenly. Discovered a few hours later, they were rushed to the hospital but it was already too late. No records have been compiled for such deaths in the country, but these are becoming more frequent. In April last year, four children playing inside an abandoned car in Tuticorin in Tamil du, accidentally locked themselves in and suffocated to death. Children have a great fascition for cars but it can become a death trap. Many parents are totally uware of the dangers of leaving their children uttended inside cars. Most cars nowadays come equipped with sophisticated locks or a central locking system to prevent theft. But once children get accidentally locked in, there is no way for them to get out. Experts say that an average-sized car contains about 60 liters of oxygen. Once the trapped child uses up all the oxygen, he or she falls unconscious and suffocates to death within six hours. In case the car is parked in open space under the sun or inside a hot garage, the child’s body temperature will be higher, the oxygen will be used up faster, and death will occur sooner. In case parents decide to leave the car air-conditioner running with the ignition turned on, there is high chance of death due to carbon monoxide poisoning. In a closed environment like a garage, carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes can seep back into cars. Even if the child mages to survive, carbon monoxide can cause irreversible brain damage. Then there is the risk of children getting dehydrated quickly if left alone inside cars, which can also cause death in a few hours. There can be other dangers as it happened in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh in March this year. Four children left in a car were burnt to death after its faulty music system sparked and ignited firecrackers purchased and kept inside. Some countries like the US have laws prohibiting children to be left uttended in vehicles. According to a study by San Jose State University, at least 657 children in the US from 1998 till 2014 have died after being left uttended in cars, an average of 37 deaths a year. Seventy per cent of these deaths occurred because parents either forgot or intentiolly left behind kids inside vehicles. Clearly, elders have to be extremely cautious while stricter laws need to be framed to prohibit leaving children uttended inside vehicles.

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