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Experts renew warning about danger of using cloths to cover prams: Eight degrees hotter than outside

By Merryn Porter |

As the temperatures start to rise, parents are being warned about the many summer dangers posing a risk to children, including one popular practice.

Leading child safety and first-aid advocate CPR Kids this week issued a plea to parents and carers not to cover their child's prams with cloths and wraps, and cited a previous experiment it conducted.

A series of 2019 tests showed temperatures inside covered prams located both indoors and outdoors rose rapidly by up to eight degrees, with one expert saying the practice was similar to leaving a child in a hot car.

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CPR Kids has renewed its warning against covering prams with cloth. (CPR Kids)

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?The Facebook post shared by CPR Kids this week began, "Share this one far and wide [and] save it to your phone.

"You see others doing it# so why not pop a light muslin cloth or wrap over the pram to protect them?

"We think it's great that each year around this time, we see our test results and PRAM acronym doing the rounds on social media 每 the more parents and carers that know about this danger and how to avoid it, the better."

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Air circulation is important when babies are in a pram. (Getty)

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The post then referred to the results of CPR Kids' tests conducted in 2019, in which a muslin wrap was used to cover a pram. It said that even in very windy weather, there was a notable climb in the temperature inside the pram.

In one test, the start temperature inside the pram was 30 degrees while the outside temperature was 33 degrees.

Within 10 minutes of the pram being covered, and even with wind circulating through the cloth, the temperature inside the pram rose to 34 degrees.

"The inside temperature had become hotter than the outside temperature," the post said.

CPR Kids also completed a test indoors. Like the previous test, the pram was in its bassinet function and was completely covered with a light muslin cloth, which was secured.

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CPR Kids says temperatures inside a covered pram can rise rapidly. (CPR Kids)

"Our reason for doing this in a room with no air-conditioning or fans was to demonstrate the importance air circulation plays, and how a lack of it really impacts the temperatures a baby is exposed to inside," it said.

In just one hour, the temperature inside the pram had risen almost eight degrees and had reached a "very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous temperature of 36.9 degrees, compared to a mild 28 degrees outside of the pram."

"Even in a relatively mild environment, when the pram is covered, you can see the steady increase in temperature, very quickly exceeding that of the air temperature surrounding the pram itself.

"This is a good indication not only of the importance of air circulation but the risk of covering baby indoors when they are sleeping or to shield them from others."

The experiment continued the next day. By 11am, despite a room temperature of 26.6 degrees, the temperature inside the pram had risen to 33 degrees.

"Even taken in morning conditions, the impact of the lack of air circulation still has obvious effects."

CPR Kids quoted Kidsafe SA operations manager McKeely Denholm, who said covering a pram with a cloth or blanket caused it to retain heat, and put children in grave danger.

"It can actually heat up quite quickly 每 much like a car," she said.

CPR Kids ended the post, "So whether indoors or outdoors, covering the pram with anything that isn't specifically designed to safely do so, is dangerous."

It also offered the following tips:

  • Make sure you only use appropriate pram accessories that are made to promote air circulation 每 and not items that aren't made specifically for the purpose of covering prams.
  • Always make sure the baby has adequate airflow 每 this can be from an open pram that is not covered, back panels being opened if your pram allows for this, or using accessories designed for covering prams that either don't cover them entirely or use mesh to support air circulation.
  • Always check on the baby frequently and make sure they are visible to you.
  • If covering to protect baby from the sun, keep in mind other safe ways to do this, such as using a baby-safe sunscreen, a hat, adequate clothing, seeking shade, avoiding going out in hot weather when possible, and ensuring baby stays hydrated.
  • Always remember the PRAM acronym 每 Protect from the sun; Regularly check baby; Air circulation is key; and Make sure you can see baby.

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