Take them with you

Columnist Lori Welbourne discusses the importance of not leaving kids or pets in a sweltering vehicle, during a hot day.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist that specializes in anecdotal humour.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist that specializes in anecdotal humour.

I drove my kids to the corner store a few days ago and as they ran in with their friends I shut the engine off. In less than a minute I could feel the inside of my truck rapidly heating up, but rather than turn on the air conditioning so I could cool down, I decided to see how long I could tolerate the extreme heat.

I’d recently seen some social experiment videos in which people tested their endurance in a hot car and I was curious to feel it for myself. With the temperature at 90 degrees outside, how much would it rise with the doors closed and the windows rolled up? How long would I be able to hack it?

By the time the kids returned close to eight minutes later I was drenched with sweat and felt like I’d been cooking in an oven. I had no idea how hot it had become, but after reading that a car can heat up to 125 degrees within minutes, I believe that probably wasn’t far off. When we consider the core temperature of an infant or young child can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult, it’s not surprising that over 700 of them have died from vehicular heatstroke since 1990. According to the nonprofit safety group Kids and Cars, 38 deaths per year is the new average, and that’s just in the U.S. Statistics such as these are unavailable in Canada.

“He was asleep,” one of my friends explained about leaving her own toddler in the back seat when she ran into Starbucks. “And I was only going to be minute or two.” But the decision she thought was harmless because she’d parked out front and could see her car from the counter, turned into a regret she’ll never repeat.

“My order took longer that I expected,” she said. “And I’d also run into an old friend I started chatting with.” By the time she returned, her baby was crying and there were two concerned strangers trying to open her doors, angry she’d left him in there, and about to call 911. At first she was defensive and thought they were overreacting, but with her boiling hot two year old out of his car seat and in her arms sobbing she felt both mortified and grateful that her child was still conscious.

People can have a terrible sense of how long it takes to do things and it only takes minutes in an overheated car for a child to suffer irreversible brain or kidney injuries. When body temperatures reach 104 degrees, internal organs can shut down, and at 107 degrees children can die.This doesn’t just happen to children left unattended by parents imagining they’ll be a brief moment either. It also happens to little ones who’ve been temporarily forgotten. Often due to a change in routine combined with fatigue and distracted thinking, loving parents have been known to have complete memory failure regarding their children in the back seat, only to discover their heartbreaking death once they return to the car.

Medical experts caution us not to think it can’t happen to us and recommend leaving a shoe, wallet, phone or something we’ll need to retrieve from the backseat as a full-proof reminder of the child. And since kids sometimes get into cars on their own, they should always be locked and keys and remote openers should be placed out of their reach.

Leaving anyone in a vehicle who’s unable to open the door and remove themselves should never be done. And that advice applies to man’s best friend as well. Canines don’t sweat and have no way of cooling themselves, so an over heated vehicle can easily kill a dog. If you see a helpless person or animal in a hot car, remember that every second counts. Call 911, have someone report the name, model and license plate of the vehicle to the nearest business and don’t leave the scene until the situation’s resolved. If the parent or authorities are too slow to arrive and a life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness who agrees and take steps to remove them from the hot car.

Depending on the city, attempting a rescue such as this could lead to charges being laid – especially in the case of a broken window – but saving a life would be worth that risk to most of us. Once they’re out, move them to an air-conditioned space if possible, give them non-ice water to drink and to cool them down with. Even on a day with milder temperatures and the windows cracked, a car can heat up exceedingly fast. Vehicular heatstroke fatalities have occurred with outside temperatures as low as 60 degrees, so always take them with you. Or if they’re a pet, leave them safe at home.

For more information please visit: KidsAndCars.org

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

Just Posted

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

.
Fraser Health monitors long-term care vaccination rates amid local COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 transmission has largely been on the decline in Agassiz-Harrison

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

Most Read