More than 200 children and pets have been rescued from locked, hot vehicles over the past two months prompting a warning lives are being put at risk.
The AA has reported an alarming spike in emergency call-outs to its roadside rescue service this summer with about 210 trapped youngsters and animals freed from stifling vehicles across New Zealand.
National Roadservice manager John Healy said this was up 20 per cent for the same time last year and very troubling.
"These types of lockouts are happening far more often than people think," said Mr Healy.
"AA Roadservice officers attended more than 1500 emergency call-outs last year - that's 1500 times a child or animal was put at risk because they were either consciously left in a vehicle, or car keys were accidentally lost or locked inside with them."
The high number of call-outs indicated a need for greater awareness of the risks posed to animals and children.
"The temperature inside a vehicle with no ventilation rises rapidly, particularly in summer and it doesn't take long before a child or a pet gets agitated and suffers the effects of heat exhaustion with its potentially fatal consequences," said Mr Healy.
He said leaving windows wound down slightly was not a safe alternative and still put the child or pet at risk.
"The best thing you can do is never leave your kids or pets locked in the car, no matter what," he said.
Mr Healy said the majority of call-outs were because of accidental lockouts.
He said drivers mistakenly locked keys in boots, threw them on their passenger seat or even handed them to children to play with.
He advised parents and caregivers to make sure they always had their keys on them around their vehicles, especially if children and pets were inside.