Don’t turn your car into a coffin

The temperature in a parked car can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill a child or pet

By: Kamloops This Week

mercuryWith Environment Canada calling for the mercury in Kamloops to perhaps hit 40 C this week, health officials are urging people to pay particular attention to the heat inside their vehicles.

Soaring heat and intense sun can turn any vehicle into an oven in the summertime, causing heat exhaustion or even death for both pets and children.

The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with the windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill a child or pet.

Never leave family members in a vehicle, which can become extremely hot.

When the temperature outside is 27 C, the inside of a car can be as high as 36 C — and it only rises from that point.

Due to the greenhouse effect, the air in a car and upholstery heat up quickly. This causes heatstroke in both pets and children and they can become sick in less than 30 minutes. Heat stroke may occur when body temperature passes 40 C.

Temperatures this high can overwhelm the brain’s temperature control, causing symptoms such as dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure and loss of consciousness.

Death can occur.

Symptoms of heatstroke in pets include rapid, exaggerated panting or stopping panting, rapid pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors and the turning to red of tongue and lips. The animal may collapse, go into a coma and potentially die.

Health officials urge all to follow these steps when out and about in the summer heat in Kamloops and beyond:

• Always check the front and back seats of the car before you lock it and leave.

• Put your purse, briefcase, or something else you need by a child’s car seat so you don’t forget to check.

• Always lock your car when it’s empty so kids can’t get in without you knowing.

Danger to pets remains

Despite ongoing warnings and public-service announcements about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars, BC SPCA constables are being inundated with calls this summer to rescue pets left in parked vehicles.

In June, the agency responded to 228 calls to rescue dogs in distress who had been left in hot cars by their owners.

“The media is wonderful about helping us get the message out that it can be fatal to leave your pet in a hot car, even for 10 minutes, but still we receive hundreds of calls about animals in distress,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

“We can’t stress strongly enough how dangerous this is for your pet.”

Considering the blistering forecast for Kamloops and the province, the BC SPCA is urging people to leave their pets at home if they can’t keep them safe.

“Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws,” Chortyk said. “Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time — in some cases just minutes — before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.”

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:

• Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place.

• Wet the dog with cool water.

• Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.

• Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.

• Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available).

• Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.