There’s a heat wave sweeping across the Prairies. Northwest Saskatchewan is under an extreme heat warning with temperatures 29 degrees and higher now through Thursday.
The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute (SPI) is reminding parents and caregivers to be cautious of hyperthermia in extreme heat.
“Children’s bodies, because of their physical size, they don’t sweat like adults do and they aren’t able to regulate their internal temperature,” Cara Zukewich, with the SPI, said.
From a maturity perspective, Zukewich said children over the age of 10 would likely fair well if left unattended in a hot vehicle but she doesn’t recommend it.
“Over the age of 10 or 12, around that age range they can probably speak up and say that they’re getting hot or getting warm. They could probably physically roll down the window, undo their seat-belt … but then what ends up happening is we run into another set of problems. Vehicles left unattended can be stolen,” Zukewich cautioned.
She also recommends taking children in with you when you leave the vehicle, regardless of their age or the length of time they’ll be unattended.
According to the Ministry of Social Services, Saskatchewan does not have a stipulated age at which a child can be safely left alone in any location. However, in the event that a child’s safety is endangered by being left alone, this may be considered child neglect.
Studies show a vehicle’s temperature can rise by eight to 10 degrees within 10 minutes of shutting it off. Zukewich said a child can progress from heat exhaustion, to heat stroke, to death within 20 minutes.
Jasmine Hanson, with the Saskatoon SPCA, said the organization has already received more than 40 calls this spring regarding distressed pets left in vehicles.
“Breeds of dogs that have the flatter faces such as pugs those types of breeds do suffer a lot quicker than others.” said Hanson.
Dogs are even more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke because they pant to cool themselves, which exacerbates the situation in a hot vehicle, according to Hanson.