Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.
Heat stroke, the silent child killer
During the warm summer months, it’s no surprise that temperatures in an enclosed vehicle can reach astronomical numbers quite quickly.
Throughout the country, about four to six children perish each year from being left in cars during extreme hot or cold temperatures. Even though no such cases have been reported in Cornwall in recent memory, Cornwall Community Police (CCP) and the SD&G Children’s Aid Society (CAS) are always on the lookout for a child in need of help.
“To our knowledge, there has never been a child who has died as a result of being left in a car in Cornwall,” explained Dan Cloutier, Media Relations, Crime Reduction and Community Partnerships Bureau with the CCP. “Yes, we do get calls to check on the wellbeing of children who have been left in cars during the summer; however the calls are not often. A police officer would immediately be dispatched to attend such a call and if there were concerns for the safety of a child, CAS would be notified.
On a day that is just 22 degrees Celsius, the temperature inside a car can increase by 30 to 40 degrees in an hour. Children are more susceptible and at a higher risk than adults for heat-related illness and injury, because their bodies make more heat relative to their size, and their abilities to cool through sweating are not as developed as adults.
Heat stroke may occur when body temperature passes 40 degrees Celsius. The extreme heat overwhelms the brain's temperature control, causing symptoms such as dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, loss of consciousness, and/or death.
According to section 218 of The Canadian criminal code, “everyone who unlawfully abandons or exposes a child who is under the age of ten years, so that its life is or is likely to be endangered or its health is or is likely to be permanently injured, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.”
Ontario parents or guardians that leave their child in an enclosed vehicle might also face stiff punishment from the province’s Child and Family Services Act. The said act outlines several guidelines that, if not followed, could lead to an investigation by the Children’s Aid Society.
It stresses that a child is in need of protection when there is a “failure to adequately care for, provide for, supervise or protect the child, or if there are patterns of neglect in caring for, providing for, supervising or protecting the child.”