As the heat wave continues across southern Saskatchewan, so do the reminders around not leaving pets and kids inside hot vehicles.
According to the Canada Safety Council, on a 30 C day, a car can warm up to 50 C in less than 20 minutes.
“A lot of folks think that vehicles rise in temperature at a gradual rate, but it’s actually much more exponential,” said Lewis Smith, the council’s manager of national projects.
While heatstroke generally sets in around 45 C for adults, he noted it can happen at an even lower temperature for young children.
“The hotter the car is (than outside), the quicker the heat sets into the body and the quicker hypothermia sets in. When that happens, it really doesn’t take long — a couple minutes at most — and that child is seriously at risk,” Smith explained, adding it’s never a good idea to leave a kid in a vehicle unattended in the warm weather.
“The issue arises when that five minutes turns into 10, 15 — the parent doesn’t realize the time is slipping away. By the time they come back, a half hour has slipped by and the child is in serious danger.”
Smith added children are at a greater risk of heatstroke because their organs aren’t fully developed, meaning they can’t regulate their body temperature like adults.
The Canada Safety Council estimates between three to five Canadian children die each year from being left unattended in vehicles.
Why vehicles are hotter inside than out
According to Environment Canada meteorologist John Paul Cragg, the reason a vehicle’s interior is hotter than the temperature outside is because sun shines in, trapping the heat inside.
“The window doesn’t block almost any of that solar radiation from coming into the car, but then that car gets heated up and emits long wave radiation and it gets blocked by the windshield,” he explained.
“That means that long wave radiation stays within the car and heats it up. Also, the air inside the car can’t go anywhere.”
When it comes to cracking a window, Cragg noted it doesn’t make much of a difference.
“You’d have to have the windows probably totally right down in order to make sure that the car’s the same temperature as the outside.”