Hidden Dangers: The Family Car

By: Jennifer Pretty Aug 09, 2011
heat inside car

Every summer we hear about tragedies that occur when people leave their children, pets or an elderly family member in a sweltering car for extended periods of time.  I remember coming across a story this past July about a couple in Ottawa who left their one month old daughter in the car for nearly an hour while they shopped at a Home Depot.  Luckily, the police spotted the infant in the car, broke the window and got her to the hospital where she recovered.

Even moderately warm temperatures can quickly lead to deadly heat inside a parked automobile. This occurs because the car acts like a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat. Children’s body temperatures rise 3 to 5 times faster than adults, which make them even more vulnerable to heat stroke.

You should absolutely never leave your child or pet in the car in the scorching heat. If you need to go into a store take them with you, or don’t bring them along for the car ride at all. We’ve all been there - when you think you’re just going to “run in for 5 minutes” which quickly turns into 45. These neglectful acts can have devastating consequences. Leaving a helpless person or an animal locked in a car on a humid day, is most definitely a form of abuse.

It is reported that thirty to fifty children die every year in the United States from being locked inside vehicles. Many of these cases occur when over-tired parents forget to drop their children, who are often asleep in the backseat, off at daycare on the way to work.

These are tragic cases, partly because they are preventable.

Here are some tips:

Take Action: If you see an unattended child or elderly person inside a car on a hot day, approach and check to make sure they're okay. If in doubt, get help or call 911. If you see a pet in a hot car showing signs of heat exhaustion (heavy panting, gasping, unconsciousness) you can also call 911 or animal protective services to report the matter.

Make sure you lock your car doors and trunks: In the U.S. 30% of child heat stroke deaths occur when the child is playing inside a vehicle unattended. If a child is missing, always check your car.

Reminders: If you drive your children to daycare, try putting your handbag, cell phone or lunch bag on the floor by your child’s feet. This will ensure you look in the backseat in case you forget to drop them off in the morning rush.


Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!


Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!