Baby's First Year · Parenting · Pregnancy

Never leave a child unattended in a car: Look before you lock!

Parent buckles infant safely into a rear facing car seat in vehicleIt’s a beautiful summer’s day and your errand list is endless. You are rushing and you have a lot on your mind. Your child is quietly sleeping in their car seat. You exit the vehicle, taking your valuables, and note where you parked. Did you remember to check the backseat?

Every year in Canada, children are left unattended in hot cars and approximately 4-6 die from heat stroke.

When the media reports these incidents we think;

  • This could never happen to me!
  • How could a parent forget a child in a hot car?

This is an unfortunate and preventable tragedy.  Everyone makes mistakes but…

Never leave a child alone in a parked vehicle at any time during any season, even if it’s just for a minute. 

What are the risks for the child?

Babies and young children are much more sensitive to heat than adults. They have lower sweat rates and cannot adjust to heat the same way as adults. Their temperatures rise 3-5 times faster than yours!  A hot car quickly becomes an oven to their small bodies causing heat stress, severe dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Heat stroke puts your child at risk for organ failure, seizures, coma, and even death.

Did you know?

  • Temperatures can rise 10°C in the first 10 minutes inside a car
  • When the outside air is 23°C, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach more than 50°C.
  • Opening the car windows slightly does not keep the temperature at a safe level.

There is no safe amount of time to leave your baby or child unattended in a vehicle.

Tips to keep your kids safe:

  • Never leave a baby or child unattended in a vehicle at any time.
  • Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Check for sleeping babies.Individual facing a white car, locking door with key in hand.
  • Always check the backseat before locking your car.
  • Place important objects, such as your cellphone, wallet or purse, in the backseat as a reminder to check on your baby/child before you leave the car.
  • Always lock your car and make sure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. Teach children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
  • Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school or day care

If you see a baby or child unattended in a parked car, call 911 immediately.

For more information:

If you have any further questions, you can connect with a Public Health Nurse via eChat or call (416) 338-7600.

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