Hamilton doctor takes ‘hot car challenge’ to show dangerous effects heat can have on kids

Click to play video: 'Hamilton doctor describes ‘hot car challenge’' Hamilton doctor describes ‘hot car challenge’
WATCH ABOVE: Dr. Anthony Crocco, chief of pediatric emergency at McMaster Children’s Hospital, takes part in the ‘hot car challenge,’ which was livestreamed on Hamilton Health Sciences’ Facebook account – Jul 19, 2017

A Hamilton doctor has taken the ‘hot car challenge’ to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving children in vehicles during the summer and how quickly it can lead to heat-related illnesses.

“I feel thirsty and I feel uncomfortable and so I can only imagine if it was a hotter day today or if I was a little child that was strapped into a car seat what that would feel like, and I think it would be considerably worse than this,” Dr. Anthony Crocco, chief of pediatric emergency at McMaster Children’s Hospital, told reporters Tuesday afternoon while resting on a stretcher after spending around 15 minutes confined inside a car outside of the hospital.

Environment Canada reported a temperature of 27 C in Hamilton at the time of the challenge with mostly cloudy sky and a humidex of 35 C. However officials said in the minutes Crocco was in the car, the interior temperature reached up to around 40 C. If there was full sunshine, paramedics said the temperature could have risen to 60 or 65 C.

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The event was livestreamed on Hamilton Health Sciences’ Facebook account. Crocco sat on a child’s car seat and Hamilton Paramedics monitored Crocco’s vital signs throughout the challenge. Before calling off the event, he said he wanted to get out before the onset of more severe heat-related symptoms.

“What I don’t want to do is get to the point where I stop sweating,” Crocco said.

“What we saw was is just a small increase in his breathing rate, so that just happens as your body is trying to cool itself,” Michelle Greenspoon, a primary care paramedic with the Hamilton Paramedic Service, said.

READ MORE: Heat stroke, heat exhaustion and sun poisoning: What you should know

“The same thing happens with sweating, so your body is just trying to cool yourself by putting the perspiration all over your body.”

She said crews were called to 65 heat-related emergencies last summer. The incidents ranged involved people feeling hot in a public place, reports of heat exhaustion and paramedics were called to two situations involving children under the age of two who were accidentally locked in a vehicle. She said 17 of the emergencies involved people who were under the age of 18.

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WATCH: Hamilton doctor takes ‘hot car challenge.’ Lama Nicolas reports.

Click to play video: 'Hamilton doctor takes ‘hot car challenge’' Hamilton doctor takes ‘hot car challenge’
Hamilton doctor takes ‘hot car challenge’ – Jul 19, 2017

Meanwhile, Crocco said while he had room to move around, small kids buckled into a car seat do not have that ability. He said children are particularly at risk for heat-related illness.

“Kids are very small … they lose water very, very quickly with sweating. They can quickly go from being OK to over-heated, what we call heat stroke, because they become dehydrated,” Crocco said.

“When you stop sweating and your skin becomes very red and dry, that’s very dangerous. It’s at that point that the body is no longer able to control the temperature rise … people can develop lethargy, coma, seizures, and that’s when kids die.”

Officials encouraged people to call 911 immediately if a child is found unattended in a vehicle. Crocco said he hopes people think about the consequences and be mindful when travelling.

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“If I can prevent one or two of these things from happening, that’s much more valuable than treating (a child) on the tail end,” he said.

With files from Lama Nicolas

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