Cornwall Police Service

Children, pets and hot cars don't mix!

Pets in cars

The Cornwall Police Service would like to remind you of the dangers of leaving children and pets unattended in motor vehicles this summer.

People need to realize that it is never okay to leave a child or a family pet in a motor vehicle, even for a brief time. On a hot day, temperatures inside a closed motor vehicle can soar to dangerous levels in as little as ten minutes.

Heat exhaustion can occur at temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius (90 F) and heat stroke can occur when temperatures rise above 40 degrees Celsius (105 F). When a child is enclosed in a hot car, he/she loses body fluids and salts through sweating, causing heat exhaustion. If not treated immediately, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. In heat stroke, a child can no longer sweat. His/her body temperature rises to deadly levels leading to severe damage to the brain, liver and kidneys, or even death.

Animals and hot cars just don't mix. Many pets die each year as a result of being left in parked cars during warm weather. Temperatures inside a parked car rapidly reach well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 F) on a relatively mild day during the summer, even if the car is parked in the shade. A dog's normal body temperature is about 39 degrees Celsius (102 F). A dog can withstand a body temperature of 41 degrees Celsius (106 F) for only a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage or even death.

Every member of the community should be on the lookout for a potentially bad situation. If you see a young child or a family pet in an unattended car, you should take immediate action. Call your local police for help. Taking the appropriate action immediately, could save a child or a family pet from serious harm, or even death.

A motor vehicle is not an acceptable play area for a child. Parents and caregivers should be careful to lock empty cars. An unlocked car can pose a serious risk to children who are naturally curious and often lack fear of getting trapped inside. All the agencies are urging parents and caregivers to be particularly vigilant about their children and pet's safety on days when temperatures reach 26 degrees Celsius (80 F) or higher.

We offer the following safety precautions to prevent heat-related injuries in cars: 

  • Never leave your child or family pet unattended in a motor vehicle, even with the windows cracked open a few inches. Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars. 
  • Always lock car doors and trunks -- even at home -- and keep keys out of children's reach. Watch children and family pets closely around cars, particularly when loading or unloading items. 
  • Always make sure all children and family pets have left the car when you reach your destination. 
  • Don't overlook sleeping infants or pets. 
  • If your child or family pet gets locked inside a car, get them out and dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately. 
  • When restraining children in a car that has been parked in the heat, check to make sure seating surfaces and equipment (car seats and seat belt buckles) aren't excessively hot. 
  • Use a light covering to shade the seat of your parked car. Consider using windshield shades in front and back windows. 
  • Keep the trunk of your car locked at all times, especially when parked in the driveway or near the home. 
  • Keep the rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids and pets from getting into the trunk from inside the car. 
  • Put car keys out of children's reach and sight. 
  • Be wary of child-resistant locks. Teach older children how to disable the driver's door lock.

This summer don't leave your child or pet unattended in a vehicle, not even for a moment. Let's take care of our precious resources.