A high-ranking Cork City fire officer is pleading with parents not to leave their children unattended this summer following several calls to firefighters relating to babies trapped in vehicles.
Second Officer at Cork City Fire Brigade, Victor Shine said concern had prompted members of the public to contact them for help. He said parents have often left the car while their infant slept in the belief that they would be safe from danger. Mr Shine explained how these babies are normally locked into the car making it difficult to access in the event of an emergency.
Mr Shine is warning families of the potential dangers and one of the main concerns during summer months is heat stroke which can have a devastating impact on babies and young children.
“When an infant or small child starts crying in a car after being left alone things tend to get very dramatic, very quickly,” he said.
"All a child wants when they cry is to be looked after but our concerns are the hot weather, dehydration, and the child getting generally unwell.
“Oftentimes we will have to do a forceful entry using specialised equipment to break the window of the car.”
He urged anyone who encounters a child in potential danger to contact authorities.
“The windows will often be closed. The bystander is sometimes frustrated knowing what trouble they could get into if they try to gain access to the vehicle to help the child themselves. Our presence adds a layer of authority to the situation. For this reason, they will always contact us rather than taking matters into their own hands.”
He described the measures firemen take to protect children. “When we see there is a threat to the child’s health then we would take immediate action with a controlled opening of the vehicle.
“If the child is old enough we will empower them to take control of the situation by showing them how to open the doors themselves. Gardaí accompanying us will usually have a word with the parents but if they have still not been identified they can be tracked down by the registration of the vehicle. It comes as a shock to them because they never associated leaving a baby alone in a car with danger.
“The excuse normally is that they just popped into the shop for a while. That one minute they intended to leave the car can become significantly prolonged. We’ve had parents who have become upset because of the damage done to the car to get to a child.
“However, the child’s safety is always our priority.”