Due to the unfortunate incidents of young children being left on buses which tragically resulted in the death of a 3-year-old boy, approved providers are encouraged to review their policies and procedures to ensure the safe transportation of children during excursions, drop off and pickups.
On a hot day, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can be 20 degrees to 30 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. In as little as 5 minutes, the temperature in a vehicle can double, reaching dangerous levels extremely quickly.
The impact of heat on a child’s body is almost immediate and can be fatal. A child’s body temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s, placing them at greater risk of life-threatening heatstroke, brain injury, heart and lung failure and dehydration.
No child should be left behind or left unattended in any vehicle and it's the responsibility of the approved provider and the educators to ensure that all children are accounted for when transporting children in vehicles.
Strategies To Ensure All Children Are Accounted For
Early childhood services transporting children must be vigilant of the dangers of leaving children in vehicles and have strategies in place to manage the risks and protect children in their care.
To ensure the safe transportation of children the following steps should be followed:
- Make sure your roll records are accurate and up to date - Your service’s policies and procedures must include maintaining accurate and up-to-date roll record keeping. This includes for drop off at, and collection from, the service, and during excursions. Ensure staff receive practical training on these policies, processes and procedures at induction and are retrained regularly. It is important to rehearse often.
- Do a roll check and a headcount - Checking off a roll as children enter and leave the vehicle is essential. By only counting heads, you can miss individuals as they arrive or depart. When you look at the child, tick off their name on the roll. If calling out names from a roll, look at the child as they respond. If a child is present but not named on the roll or vice versa, confirm with the service, school or their parent whether they should be in care that day and update the roll accordingly.
- Thoroughly check the vehicle - Physically inspect the vehicle to ensure all children have exited including checking under the seats, in the luggage racks and in any storage areas.
- Do another roll check and headcount when entering the service - Once the children are in their respective room at the service or family day care home or venue, conduct another roll check and headcount to ensure all children are accounted for.
- Check the vehicle again - Have a second person physically check the vehicle including checking under the seats, in the luggage racks and in any storage areas.
If a child is unaccounted for, immediately make all necessary enquiries to establish the child's whereabouts. You will need to conduct physical searches of the service and, if necessary, contact the child's family and/or the police.
All staff should receive a practical induction and regular, practical training relating to the transportation of children. It is important that these processes and procedures are rehearsed regularly. It is every approved provider and educator’s responsibility to ensure children in their care are not left unattended in vehicles.
We are all responsible for the safe transportation of children. Please make sure you check, recheck, triple check vehicles with children before locking them and moving away. Make sure all children are accounted for and that you physically see the child in front of you when marking rolls, not just gear their voice. As Educators, we need to ensure that we keep children safe and happy while in our care.
Look Before You Lock: Do Not Leave Children In Vehicles, Queensland Government, 27 February 2020