Campaign to Eliminate the Hazards of Leaving Infants in Hot Cars

One of the major challenges that the pachinko industry faces is people leaving infants in hot cars in pachinko parking lots. If a parent leaves his/her child in a hot car because he/she gets too carried away by pachinko, the child will get heat stroke and even death in the worst-case scenario. During the overheating of the pachinko boom in the mid 90’s, the media (newspapers, magazines, TV news reports) pointed out that a lot of children were exposed to such hazards and the pachinko industry was harshly criticized.

In response to this, the pachinko industry has launched a campaign to eliminate the hazards of leaving infants in hot cars. We ask customers accompanied by children not to enter the parking lot. In addition, the pachinko parlor staff, etc. patrol the parking lot at regular intervals to make sure there are no children left in cars.

As a result of the measures taken, a total of 58 children were rescued from 42 cars in Japan in 2009. Since then, dozens of rescues per year have been reported and the activities have showed some success. However, the hazards of leaving infants in hot cars have not been eliminated by these measures. Since 1998, 27 similar accidents have occurred in Japan. During the five-year period from 2009 until 2013, at least one accident has occurred every year. Some parents had tended to play with their children left in cars even during the period.

To eliminate such accidents, the pachinko parlor industry bodies have developed even stricter preventive measures. They are undertaking activities to make sure no children are left alone in cars. These measures include patrolling the parking lot at least once every hour, placing top priority on rescuing children using “radical” measures such as breaking the windshield, etc. as required, keeping the pachinko parlor manager and all employees well-informed of preventive measures, putting up signs asking customers accompanied by children not to visit the pachinko parlor, and providing newspaper inserts to raise awareness concerning the hazards of leaving infants in hot cars. The period from the Golden Week holidays through October and the year-end through the New Year holiday period are regarded as periods when pachinko parlors must be especially vigilant. July and August are also designated as special monitoring periods.

If measures such as patrolling the parking lot were reduced, similar accidents would increase again. Parents accompanied by children should be responsible for taking care of them. However, the pachinko industry is expected to take meticulous measures to prevent such tragedies from recurring at pachinko parlors.