Although it seems like common sense, apparently it’s not so common knowledge that leaving children and pets in a hot vehicle can result in death. The weather in Canada and the United States can be dangerous in any season, whether it’s exposure to extreme cold or heat, leaving children unattended in cars spells trouble. While it may not seem unbearable to an adult, 30 degrees plus is hot enough to kill and children literally cook alive unattended in cars.
An Edmonton girl, three years old, died Tuesday night after being left in her family’s vehicle in front of the home. The girl’s name has not been released and an autopsy is scheduled tonight. Edmonton police are investigating it as a suspicious death. The little girl, was found unconscious by paramedics in her family’s vehicle Tuesday evening. An hour after paramedics arrived and attempted to revive her, the child was pronounced dead. She is the second child fatality this year in Canada related to car deaths and heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The first child, Maximus Huyskens, was two years old and had been left alone in the car for an extended period of time. His family is from Milton, Ontario and his funeral was held today.
Summer is supposed to be a wonderful season for children, when they get to tackle the outdoors and play in the sun. When the heat soars into the thirties, children, pets and elderly are most vulnerable. Being left unattended in a car, or any space without adequate hydration and means to cool the body is a recipe for death. The reality behind summer, is that it gets hot enough to kill, and children literally cook alive unattended in cars, the loss is senseless and preventable.
The temperature in Edmonton on Tuesday was in the thirties, but with the humidex was closer to 43 degrees outside the car. Mark Bonta, an internal medicine specialist at Toronto General Hospital explains why it only takes less than a quarter of an hour for a child to suffer heat stroke and dehydration.
“If a kid is left in the car, the windows trap the heat and the sun is reflected off the skin and the windows, causing a greenhouse effect. This can lead to classic heat stroke in a matter of 10-15 minutes, as the ambient temperatures in the car skyrocket under this ‘greenhouse’ effect and the humidity that subsequently climbs in this enclosed space limits our bodies’ abilities to lose heat through evaporative means (sweating).”
Around 40 children in America die each year from car related deaths where they were left alone and suffered heat stroke from soaring temperatures. On the same day, police were called to rescue three other children, whose mother is alleged to have left her three boys ages 6, 3 and 23 months, in a car for half an hour. The mother faces three charges of willfully causing a child to be in need of intervention. Fortunately for the family, the children did not need to be taken to the hospital and are alive.
Raynald Marchand, the general manager of the Canada Safety Council, says that charges are rarely laid in such cases unless the child survives. He explains that often the police feel that the family has already been punished for their negligence “…they’ve lost their child. … They’ve already got the hardest lesson they can have: The tragic death of their child.”
Raising awareness may save another child’s life, and it doesn’t matter if the adult is only going to be gone a few minutes, cracking the window is not sufficient protection against a heat hot enough to kill and literally cook the child alive.
The Globe and Mail – Edmonton girl dies after being left in hot car
National Post News – Community ‘profoundly sad’ at funeral of Toronto-area toddler dead