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Children in Vehicles

A vehicle is a false sense of security. It only takes seconds for a child to be put at risk. They can suffer medical distress or become victims of crime.

According to the Canada Safety Council, on a warm day, even vehicles parked in the shade with windows down can reach a staggering 49 degrees Celsius in minutes.

Extreme heat affects infants and small children more quickly and dramatically than adults because of their size. Their core body temperature can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult.

If you’re not with your children, you can’t protect them. Don’t let a moment of convenience become a lifetime of regret – never leave children alone in a vehicle.

The bottom line is: a vehicle is not a babysitter.

Prevent tragedy:

  • At home: Make sure children are always properly supervised. Make sure your vehicle is locked and your keys and garage door openers are out of a child’s reach. Don’t let your children play in the car.

  • While you’re out: Plan outings that fit into both you and your child’s schedule.(i.e., Use drive-through services. Wake a napping child or postpone an errand rather than leave them alone.)

  • To avoid accidentally locking your keys and child in your vehicle: Look before you lock. Lock doors manually with your key instead of the fob to stay present in the moment and keep a spare key ring in your purse or pocket for emergencies.

What can happen:

  • It only takes a child seconds to be put at risk.

  • Children can put a car in motion by moving the gear shift or by playing with the brakes.

  • Children can come under medical distress requiring immediate help.

  • Children can get out of their safety restraints, exit the car and wander off.

  • Children can roll up windows on themselves causing suffocation and even death.

  • The temperature inside a vehicle intensifies quickly, which can cause children to overheat or freeze.

  • Theft of the vehicle with children inside.

  • Abductions and crimes against children.

If you spot a child left alone in a car:

  • Call the police/911 immediately. Provide them with the (1) location, (2) license plate and (3) vehicle description. If you have trouble connecting to emergency services, you can contact AMA Roadside Assistance at 1-800-222-4357.

  • Stay with the children until help arrives, and assist them if possible.

  • Ask for help from passers-by to canvas nearby businesses to find the driver. If you find the parent, please do not scold the parent – just stay focused on working together to get the child out of the vehicle.

  • Don’t let fear or lack of time prevent you from reporting unattended children. You may be saving their lives.

EPS and Child & Family Services take these matters seriously and consequences may include:

  • Investigation by EPS and Child and Family Services

  • Potential charges under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act or the Criminal Code.

  • Sentences can range from probation to jail

See an unattended child in a car on a hot day? Here’s what you do:

1. Call 911

2. Check for signs of overheating

  • Fast, noisy breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of responsiveness

3. Check Vehicle Doors

  • If unlocked, remove child
  • If locked, break glass and remove child
  • If owner returns, advice them that the police are on their way. Do not confront the individual. 

If you decide to break the window, be safe. Watch out for broken glass and aggressive animals.

Download our Vehicle is not a Babysitter handbill so you know what to do if you see a child or animal in a car on a hot day.

Additional Information: