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Parents & Educators

Each year, approximately 38 children in the U.S. die from heat-related deaths caused from being inside a hot vehicle in the summer time. Although the same data is not readily available in Canada, the preventable death of even one child is one too many.

Through the summer months, it’s important to remember how quickly the temperature can rise in your vehicles. A 2008 study funded by General Motors of Canada found that in less than half an hour, the air temperature in a vehicle exposed to the sun on a 35ºC (95ºF) day exceeded 50ºC (122ºF). Within 40 minutes of the vehicle being turned off, the air temperature rose to 65.5ºC (150ºF.)

Even if the windows are rolled down, the temperature of a vehicle will still rise due to the direct sunlight exposure. Children are more at risk to these sky rocketing temperatures because of their small sizes. Their small frames and lack of fully-developed circadian systems means that an average child’s body temperature will rise three to five times as fast as the average adult.

Many parents and caretakers are unaware of the dangers of leaving children inside a vehicle. Here are some guidelines to mitigate any potential risk.

1) It’s important to never leave your children unattended inside a vehicle during the summer months, even if it’s a short stop. Take your child with you. Even if it’s a mild inconvenience to bring them inside a corner store or gas station, it’s much better than exposing them to a dangerous situation.

2) Always remember to lock your vehicle doors so that children cannot get inside. Vehicles are not a place for children to be left unattended or a place for them to play.

3) While driving, keep the vehicle cool. It’s important for all passengers inside the vehicle, including you, to remain comfortable and out of the danger zone.

4) If your child shows any symptoms of heat stroke, seek care right away. Some signs include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, confusion, and a rapid heart rate.

5) Stay hydrated. Ensure that you and your children are getting plenty of fluids. Water is especially important during the hot summer months.

Following these important guidelines will ensure your child's safety and eliminate them from being at risk of heat-related deaths in a vehicle.