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.
"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.