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John McKiggan Q.C.
John McKiggan Q.C.
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Canadian Heat Wave Increases Danger to Children in Cars

3 comments

Those of us here in Atlantic Canada are enjoying the beautiful stretch of sunny weather that we have been having. But the rest of Canada is sweltering through a record heat wave.

These types of temperatures exponentially increase the danger to children left unattended in cars.

For example, a story from Edmonton, AB came to my attention this week: Good Samaritan Frees Child from Hot Car.

Temperatures in Edmonton were 32 degrees Celsius, with a humidex of 40 C. Josh Steep was walking through a parking lot at Walmart when he noticed a three-year old child locked unattended in a hot car.

Steep did the right thing. He immediately called 911. But he was very concerned about the child. So while he waited for the police to arrive at the scene, Steep smashed one of the car’s windows and pulled the child from the car, then he waited for the police and the child’s parents to arrive.

City police praised Steep’s efforts. Constable Sam Najmaddine with the Child At Risk response team was quoted as saying:

"Inside of a vehicle can shoot up to 40 C in a matter of minutes, and that is not a healthy for a three-year old. We don’t recommend that people go out there smashing cars every time they see a kid in a car, but he did the right thing, he called police. Given the amount of time that it had passed by, and the temperature, he made the right call."

Kids and Cars.org (Canada) works to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended in cars.

Remember, temperatures inside a locked vehicle rises quickly. Temperatures can reach dangerous, even fatal level within minutes. Children are especially vulnerable to high temperatures because their smaller body mass means they are not able to adapt to higher temperatures as well as adults.

According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, dozens of children die every year from heat stroke after being left unattended in motor vehicles.

The researchers studied the rate of temperature-increase in vehicles, and also tested to see if leaving the windows open slightly decreased temperature inside the vehicle.

Researchers concluded:


"Even at relatively cool ambient temperatures, the temperature rise in vehicles is significant, on clear, sunny days and puts infants at risk of hyperthermia. Vehicles heat-up rapidly, with the majority of the temperature rise occurring within first 15-30 minutes. Leaving the windows open slightly does not significantly slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature attained."

The conclusions of the researchers are similar to the message that Kids and Cars Canada has been proclaiming:

"Increased public awareness and parental education of heat-rise in motor vehicles may reduce the incidence of hyperthermia death and improve child-passenger safety."

Have a safe and happy summer, and remember: NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN A CAR.

Further Information

Child Safety: Sunny Days and Kids in Cars

Police Need More Education – Dangers of Kids and Cars

Kids and Cars (Canada)

 

3 Comments

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    On a summer day in 2008 in Phoenix, I saw – yet another – news segment about a child had been accidentally left in a hot car. I decided right then and there I would devote myself to bringing an end to these tragedies. In the 4 years I have examined the issue, the confluence of three factors increase the “modern-day” risk of forgetting a child in a car that all parents and caregivers must guard themselves against. These factors are: 1) the airbag technology requiring small children to be put in back out of the driver’s line of sight; 2) the increased amount of time parents spend driving kids around; and 3) last but not least, the distraction-filled lives we live today! This “modern-day” risk strikes without warning, usually around a change in caregiver routine – but not always. If you don’t think it can happen to you, the data proves you are mistaken. Some of the most responsible and caring people in our society have accidentally left a child in a car and now must live with the horrific consequences of that mistake every moment of every day since. As over half of the child hyperthermia deaths in cars are accidental, most of these tragedies can be eliminated if parents and caregivers will take steps to reduce the risk. Learn more about the issue and see one solution at http://www.sbtsafety.com .

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    Hi Joseph:

    Thanks for your comment. No question, most cases are a failure of memory, not a failure of love.

    In today’s environment of information overload it is all too easy easy to become a victim of cognitive distration; with potentially ragic results.

    Very clever product. I like low tech solutions. They are cheap, easy to use and don’t depend on batteries.

    At Kidsandcars.org we recommend parents keep a teddy bear in the child seat and to place it beside you in the passenger seat when you buckle up your baby.

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    Thanks John! Appreciate your commments and thanks for the feedback! The teddy bear is an option, leaving your cell phone or purse in back of the car are others. While these methods can be used as effective reminder devices, our concern is these items have competing demands or uses (cell phone is also needed for communication; teddy bear is also a child’s toy, a purse is a fashion statement that carries money and/or personal items, etc.) which may interfere with their regular use as a reminder device. The MyCue Streamer, on the other hand, is singular in its use and purpose. Also the Streamer may remind / alert the fogetful parent, who steps away from the vehicle with the device still attached to their key chain, faster than the teddy bear, phone or purse method. My hope is that whether it’s MyCue, something else, or a combination of safeguards, parents will take some kind of action to protect themselves and their families.