Dubai Police have issued a warning to parents against leaving children unattended after officers rescued 154 children who had been left alone inside vehicles so far this year, compared to 118 in the first half of last year.
Statistics show a sharp increase in the number of toddlers being left in vehicles, lifts and homes in the emirate.
Col Abdullah Beshwa, director of the force's Land Rescue Department, said leaving children inside vehicles put their lives at particular risk.
“It is extremely dangerous for anyone to be confined in a car without proper ventilation as the temperatures reach sweltering highs. Vulnerable children are unable to fend for themselves,” Col Beshwa told The National.
“Leaving children unattended is unacceptable and poses a severe threat to the safety and well-being of our young ones.
“We urge all parents and caregivers to be extremely vigilant and responsible for the sake of their children's lives.”
Col Beshwa said the main reason for many such incidents this year was parents being distracted by their smartphones.
“Leaving children alone in vehicles, even for a short period, can have disastrous consequences. The interior temperature of a car can skyrocket rapidly,” he said.
“Some parents are so busy with their phones that they forget about their children.”
Leaving a child inside a locked car can lead to heatstroke and dehydration, which can be fatal, the officer said.
Col Beshwa renewed his warning to parents to supervise their children properly.
“We are taking this matter very seriously. Cases that involve children dying or falling critically ill due to negligence are referred to police and prosecutors for further legal action,” he said.
Parents who endanger their children by leaving them in a locked car could face a fine of Dh1 million ($272,295) and a 10-year prison sentence under a 2016 piece of children's rights legislation known as Wadeema's Law, which punishes guardians if they neglect their responsibilities regarding a child's safety.
Last month, Dubai Police launched a social media campaign aimed to educate parents about the danger of leaving their children unattended in locked cars during the summer.
The campaign included a video showing a mother leaving a sleeping boy in a car seat when taking her daughter shopping, before remembering her son and returning to rescue him.
Col Beshwa also urged members of the public to report any such incidents immediately.
“It is everyone's responsibility to ensure the safety of our children,” he said.
He said parents should check the back seats of their vehicle before locking the doors, as children can sometimes climb into cars unnoticed.
In 2019, the body of a six-year-old boy was found inside a school bus in Dubai after he was left unattended amid soaring summer temperatures.
In Sharjah that same year, a two-year-old boy was left alone in a car by his father and had to be taken to a hospital and treated for severe heatstroke.