Stay Out of the Hot Seat!

May 01, 2012

Summer will soon be upon us, and with the warmer weather comes the enduring effect of heat inside of cars becoming blisteringly hot and potentially even lethal.  Often, even on days that seem mild, the interior of a car can reach extreme heats, causing shock and failure of circulation to vital organs.

May 1st – 7th is National Summer Safety Week and the Canada Safety Council encourages all Canadians to ensure the safety of their families and themselves when dealing with hot cars. Fatalities in the summer due to vehicular heat are too frequent, particularly among small children, and can be prevented.

According to KidsAndCars.org, between 1990 and 2010, there were at least 606 vehicular heat stroke fatalities among children and youth aged 15 and younger in the United States. Data in Canada is not readily available.

Temperatures inside the confined space of a car can climb so quickly that a child’s internal temperature regulation is overwhelmed and sent into shock. In fact, heat levels in a car exposed to the sun on a 35 C (95° F) day can soar to 50 C (122° F) within 20 minutes. Heat stroke, meanwhile, occurs at 40.5 C (105° F). When the body’s core hits this state, their sweat reserves are depleted and a person is no longer able to cool their internal temperature. At this point, the body’s core temperature shoots even higher, resulting anywhere from severe organ damage to death.

Most of these incidents can be prevented. Many parents and caregivers are not aware of the risks inherent in leaving children in their vehicles, and carelessness can be a common occurrence as the weather gets warmer. Whether children are left in the vehicle for “just a minute” with a window left open, or forgotten because they are sleeping or lying down, stationary cars in direct or even indirect sunlight can become severe hazards if the proper safety measures are not taken.

Fatalities can be a result of a child entering an unlocked vehicle, and not necessarily the product of parental absent-mindedness. Car owners should remember to always keep their vehicle doors and trunk locked at all times when it is in a garage, a driveway or left unattended. By eliminating the car as a potential play area for children, the odds of being affected by a hot car reduce significantly.

Canada Safety Council wishes you a safe and pleasant summer!

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For more information, please contact:
Communications and Media Coordinator
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)