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A one-year-old was rushed to the hospital in critical condition yesterday, after being left alone in a swelteringly hot car for three hours in the town of Kiryat Gat.

The child, who was first treated by the local Magen David Adom rescue service, was later brought to Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center, suffering from dehydration. Her condition improved after receiving care at the hospital.

The infant's father, who was supposed to drop his youngest daughter off at her day care center, apparently forgot all about her and drove directly to his office, where he went to work leaving her in the car, police said.

The girl's mother found her unconscious in the car three hours later; the heat in the vehicle had reached 40 degrees.

The mother had come at 11 to take the car to run errands, as she did every day. When she saw her daughter she shouted for help and ran with the baby in her arms to the nearby Magen David Adom depot. From there the infant was taken to hospital.

The father passed out when he heard what had happened and was also taken by ambulance to Barzilai Medical Center. The couple have two other daughters.

In the past 10 years, eight children have died after being left in vehicles.

Between 2004 and 2007, some 40 children were forgotten in vehicles. Four of them died. In 2008, 24 children were forgotten in vehicles, Beterem The National Center for Children's Health and Safety said yesterday.

"37 degrees in the summer can rise to 58 degrees in a closed car in 20 minutes, and effect babies and small children faster and more severely than adults," said Beterem director Orly Silvinger.

"Because their bodies are small, their body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's... Even if a window is left open, the heat in the car is dangerous to children, animals and vulnerable adults," she said.

In April of last year, a 2-year-old boy was left sitting in the backseat of a car in Nahariya by his grandfather and was rescued by passersby who smashed the car windows to get to him. He received medical care and was returned to his mother. His grandfather forgot about him when he was delayed inside a bank.

Some two years ago a 7-month-old baby from Ramat Yishai died after her father forgot her in his car in the garage of Kibbutz Sha'ar Ha'amakin. The father had forgotten his daughter in the locked car in an estimated 70 degrees heat. He only remembered her an hour and a half later when his wife called and asked about her.

The penalty set in the penal code for leaving a child under the age of six alone in a car is three years in prison.