July 31, 2014 1:09 pm
Updated: August 1, 2014 9:36 am

What should you do if you come across a child or pet left in a vehicle?

REGINA – As temperatures continue to rise, so too does the increased risk of heat related illnesses.

Leaving a child or pet in a hot car can be fatal, and running into a store for 15 minutes is enough time for a youngster to begin suffering life threatening effects.

Mike Brenholen with St. John Ambulance explained that children and animals are especially vulnerable because they can’t fully regulate their body temperature.

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“Unlike an adult, we have a lot of skin surface and we get rid of that heat fairly quickly. But a child doesn’t have that advantage,” he added.

The topic can get a lot of people hot under the collar.

Many on social media were quick to say they’d jump to action if they ever found a child or pet stranded in a vehicle.

Rita Miller wrote on Facebook, “YES I would smash a window out! Charge me with mischief or willful damage…I wouldn’t care.”

While it’s important to be vigilant, Elizabeth Popowich with the Regina Police Service warned residents not to take vigilante action.

“Access the situation, don’t’ panic and call 911 right away. There’s a big difference between a child in a car reading and one who’s unresponsive and looks like they are having a medical emergency,” she added.

In just ten minutes the temperature in a car on a hot day can jump up 20 degrees.

Tricia Zaphe, an animal protection officer with the Regina Humane Society, said that dramatic increase is why a pet should never be left alone inside a car, regardless of the forecast.

“A vehicle is not an adequate form of shelter. Your vehicle isn’t insulated like a dog house or a house, you’ve got way more exposure with the windows.”

If you do come across the scenario of a child or pet unattended in a vehicle here’s what is recommended:

  • Call police or if you believe it’s an immediate emergency 911.
  • Stay with the vehicle and online with the operator to help monitor the child’s condition.
  • For an animal call Animal Protection Services
  • If you lock yourself out of your car, call for help, and stay with the vehicle

If you do break in to a vehicle without the permission from authorities, you could potentially be liable for damages or face charges.

Depending on the situation, a person who leaves a child unattended in a vehicle could also face charges including criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death.

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