Two children die from heatstroke after being left in unattended vehicles.
We hear these stories every year, and every year our hearts break for the families and loved ones involved.
The Canada Safety Council estimates between 4 and 6 children across the country die from being left in overheated vehicles each year. In the U.S., there have already been 15 deaths from car-induced heatstroke in 2013.
Heatstroke strikes in temperatures around 40 degrees. And on a hot day, a car’s internal temperature can reach 50 degrees in very little time. Young children are most susceptible because their core temperature rises much faster than an adult’s and their bodies lack efficient cooling systems.
One in five heatstroke deaths occur because an adult has intentionally left a child in the car – senseless, preventable tragedies.
But we may not realize that a third of these fatalities occur because a child has found their own way into an unlocked car. On Tuesday, a 3-year-old Edmonton girl died from heat exposure after getting stuck in the family car. She was playing outside. The girl’s mother says she doesn’t know how her daughter ended up in the car.
It’s critical that parents and caretakers lock car doors at all times to keep kids out.
Half of heatstroke fatalities occur because a child has been forgotten by a caregiver. Catherine Gaudreau, spokesperson for the Canada Safety Council, gives reasons why a caregiver might simply forget that a child is in the car with them. It may come down to stress and fatigue, she says. Or perhaps a break in routine. People get into autopilot, drive straight to work, and if that’s their normal routine, they might leave a child in the vehicle.
Parenting experts encourage caregivers to avoid these situations by leaving a purse or cell phone beside the child in the backseat, or by leaving a toy on the seat beside them as a visual reminder that there are little passengers in the back.
For More Information:
- Death of Milton, Ont, boy left in car was senseless, funeral hears, CTV News
- Heatstroke Deaths of Children in Vehicles, Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University
- “No words to describe loss,” says mom of tot who died in vehicle, CBC News