Car safety in hot weather: what every parent and pet owner should know

It takes seconds for a "lock-in" to occur and minutes for your car to become an oven, warns BCAA

BURNABY, BC, July 8 /CNW/ - An incident in the early July heat in Laval, Quebec, serves as stern warning about the dangers of leaving children or pets unattended in a car. According to news reports, a Laval mother was buckling her 15-month old son into his car seat while the child played with her car keys. After taking the keys away and tossing them in the front seat, the mother shut the car doors, unaware that the child had managed to lock the doors while playing with the keys. Although the child was rescued unharmed, the wait for rescuers felt like a lifetime to the mother who watched helplessly as the temperature inside the car climbed.

Scenes like this occur frequently throughout B.C. during the summer months, says the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA), which reminds parents, care givers, pet owners and other motorists to be aware of the dangers of accidentally locking or leaving children or pets in cars.

Each year, BCAA Road Assist service rescues close to 300 children and pets from locked cars.

And similar to the Laval lock-in incident, many of the 'accidental lock-in' calls attended by BCAA technicians occur while children playing with keys lock themselves inside the vehicle, or when drivers and their passengers become distracted while getting in and out of their vehicle. Car doors can close unexpectedly, locking young children or a pet in the car along with the car keys.

"During warm sunny weather, the inside of a car can reach extremely high temperatures in a matter of minutes - even if it's parked in the shade," explains Dave Chapman, BCAA's manager for fleet operations. "It gets even worse if the car is sitting directly under the sun. The car acts like a magnifying glass and creates intense interior heat. Within a matter of minutes, your car becomes a four-door furnace."

To avoid any chance that a child or family pet will be harmed by the heat of a car this summer, BCAA encourages parents, caregivers and pet owners to play it safe and take the following precautions:

    
    -   Never leave a child or pet alone in a car, even with the windows down
        or air conditioner on.

    -   Teach children not to play in cars and keep car keys out of reach and
        sight.

    -   Keep your vehicle locked at all times - even at home in the garage or
        driveway. This will help prevent toddlers from crawling into a car
        and accidentally locking themselves inside.

    -   When running errands, leave children with a responsible adult at
        home, or travel with a responsible passenger who can stay with
        children or pets while you complete your tasks.

    -   Keep your pets at home during hot summer days unless you need to take
        them to the veterinarian office, doggie day camp, or grooming salon.

    -   If you drive a pickup truck, don't leave dogs in the truck bed. The
        heat can burn their feet.

    -   Before buckling children in the car, check to make sure surfaces such
        as seat belt buckles aren't overly hot as they could burn a child's
        sensitive skin.

    -   If a child or pet is locked inside a vehicle, call 9-1-1 in an
        extreme emergency.
    

Develop a routine so you're always aware that your child or pet is with you

    
    -   Look before you leave. Always turn around to check your backseat
        before you leave the car. It is surprisingly common to forget you
        have kids or pets if they are quiet or sleeping.

    -   If you need to retrieve items placed in the backseat, make it a habit
        to open the rear doors rather than reaching from the front seat. This
        will ensure you don't forget anyone.

    -   Put your child's bags and other items in the front seat. With their
        belongings in plain sight, you're less likely to forget you're
        travelling with them.

    -   If you have several kids and/or pets in the car, do a head count
        before you close the door to make sure everyone is out when you reach
        your destination.
    

Facts about heat stress from enclosed cars:

    

    -   On a mild summer day, the temperature inside a parked car can rise to
        more then 50 degrees C. in just 15 minutes.

    -   75 per cent of the maximum temperature rise occurs within five
        minutes of closing the doors and maximizes to 51 to 67 degrees C.
        within 15 minutes.

    -   Even if parked in the shade, opening the window slightly or keeping
        the air conditioner on does not keep the temperature inside the car
        at a safe level.

    -   Because of their size, the core temperature of a baby or small pet
        can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult. Babies
        can become distressed in only five minutes and in less than 40
        minutes, a child or pet could suffer severe dehydration, heat
        exhaustion or heat stroke resulting in serious illness or death.
    

About BCAA

BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C., with over 100 years experience and gross annual sales of nearly $400 million from its membership, insurance and travel businesses. A BCAA Membership can be found in the wallets of over 780,000 British Columbians and in one-in-four B.C. households. For the past two years, BCAA has received the highest score in Canada for home insurance customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power and Associates study. And, for the past four years, BCAA has been named one the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail's Report on Business magazine. To learn more about BCAA's products, services and member advocacy, visit www.bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation visit www.tsf-bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

For further information: For further information: or to request an interview, please contact: Niela Melanio, BCAA Public Affairs Advisor, Office: 604-268-5342 (M-F between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.), Cell: 778-228-8859 (any time), Email: niela.melanio@bcaa.com


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