The traditional mental image we make for ourselves of a hot day tends to involve a bright, shining sun and a cloudless sky. Yet, as most Canadians are aware, summer months in Canada can be deceptively hot even when the sun appears to be out of sight.
National Summer Safety Week is May 1 – 7 and, this year, the Canada Safety Council is reminding Canadians about the impact that a hot day can have on the interior cabin of a vehicle.
“I think we would all agree that a hot car can be a hazardous and potentially deadly environment for anyone,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “And yet too often, we hear of children being left in vehicles. Let’s be clear, there is no acceptable period of time where a person should be subjected to excessive heat or heat suffocation in a vehicle. This is simply unsafe behaviour.”
At an ambient temperature of 35 °C, it takes only 10 minutes parked in the sun for the vehicle’s internal temperature to rise by 10 degrees. In the span of one hour, that same vehicle’s internal temperature spikes to 59 degrees.
This issue is only exacerbated when we consider that young children are frequently victims of these circumstances — while the human body is able to regulate its internal temperature through sweating, infants and younger children do not yet have fully formed body cooling systems and are affected by the sudden rise in heat even more so than their adult counterparts.
Most often, these fatalities are accidental. The American-based KidsandCars.org states that 56 per cent of all child hot car deaths were a result of being unknowingly left in the vehicle, while an additional 26 per cent of children gained access to the vehicle on their own.
Often, incidents like these occur due to simple forgetfulness owing to the child not being in the parent or guardian’s line of sight. As such, it is important to take deliberate steps to ensure an accident like this will not happen on your watch. Get into the habit of leaving an item you cannot do without — a wallet, a cell phone, a scan card — in the back seat with your child.
A common aggravating factor lies in a change of routine. A parent or guardian who is used to leaving home and heading straight for work may forget that it is their day to leave their child at daycare, for instance. Lapses in memory can happen too easily in such circumstances, though apps exist that can send a reminder to your phone to check the backseat once you’re out of range of your vehicle’s Bluetooth system.
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