Using a blanket to shield your baby’s pram from the heat could prove deadly, children’s safety advocates warn.
A heatwave is gripping much of Australia, with authorities warning children are among the most vulnerable.
Kidsafe SA operations manager McKeely Denholm said while parents may think they are doing the right thing by using a blanket to shield children in prams from the sun, they are putting them in grave danger.
“It can actually heat up quite quickly – much like a car,” Ms Denholm said.
“A lot of people aren’t aware that with the pram – by covering the pram, by putting a cloth over the pram – you can actually cause it to retain heat.
“Air can’t circulate inside the pram, so it heats up.”
Ms Denholm said research showed just how much hotter a pram got if it was covered.
“Some of the experts from Queensland are saying it can even heat up 15 degrees [Celsius] hotter than the outside temperature,” she said.
Better to check children regularly than use covers
She said Kidsafe was not aware of regulations around pram canopies, but parents should do their research before buying one.
“There is no such product that we would recommend,” she said.
“If you can, during the heat, use more open strollers or open up the back panel of your pram to allow more air flow through – that’s certainly going to help.
“The best thing you can do is just check on your baby in the pram. Regardless if it’s hot or cold, it is important that we do keep checking on baby in the pram.”
Parents heed expert advice
How a pram handled the heat was not at the top of parent Eloise Tinkler’s list of desired features when she picked out her pusher.
“To be honest I didn’t think about the weather when picking my pram out,” she said.
“It [the pram] does have an option to buy a hood with breathable airholes in it for hot days.”
The Adelaide mother of two said she was not surprised by warnings around putting cloths over prams during hot days, and she avoided doing so when she could.
“The only time I have used a cloth over the pram is if the sun has been directly in my baby’s eyes and it was a muslin wrap, and only for a very, very short amount of time,” she said.
“But it would only be in cooler weather – nothing like the weather at the moment.”
No regulatory requirements for pram covers
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), there are no specific regulations for pram canopies or covers.
“The ACCC strongly advises parents to not place blankets or adapt other items as covers over a pram to try to shield babies from the sun,” an ACCC spokesperson said.
“Doing so has the potential to increase the heat inside the pram and also poses a suffocation hazard.
“While many products can look similar, they often have different features and should always be used in accordance with instructions.
“Where a pram is supplied with a canopy parents should ensure they read and follow the instructions provided.
“If purchasing a separate sun shade, parents should ask the supplier if it is compatible with their particular pram and read the user instructions to ensure they are familiar with its use.”