Burnaby, British Columbia – Summer heat can turn a vehicle into a furnace in a matter of minutes, warns the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA), which rescues close to 300 children and pets from locked cars each year.

A puppy died during the Canada Day long weekend after being left alone in a hot vehicle in Burnaby, which serves as an example of how quickly a vehicle’s interior temperature can rise to dangerous and sometimes fatal levels, the club said. It can only take minutes for a car to reach a dangerous temperature.

“Cars sitting in the hot summer sun act like magnifying glasses, increasing intense interior heat,” said Ken Cousin, associate vice-president of Road Assist. “Interior temperatures can climb to over 60 degrees Celsius in just 10 to 20 minutes, despite windows or sunroofs being left slightly open or parking the car in the shade.”

According to a survey conducted in Australia, temperatures inside a car can increase by 50 per cent within five minutes, and 80 per cent within 15 minutes. The Canada Safety Council reports that high temperatures in cars can cause children or pets to quickly go into shock, and circulation to vital organs can fail.

BCAA suggests the following:

– Never leave a child or pet alone in a car, even with the windows down or air conditioning on.

– Leave your pets at home during hot summer days unless you need to transport them to the vet or other destination.

– When running errands, leave children with a responsible adult at home, or travel with a responsible passenger who can stay with them while you complete your tasks.

– If you drive a pickup truck, don’t leave dogs in the truck bed, as the heat can burn their feet.

– Before buckling children into their seats, make sure surfaces such as the buckles aren’t too hot.

– Teach children not to play in cars, and keep the keys out of reach and sight.

– Keep the vehicle locked at all times, even at home in the garage or driveway, which will prevent children from crawling into cars and accidentally locking themselves inside.

– If a child or pet is locked inside a vehicle, don’t hesitate to call 911.

– Develop a routine so you’re always aware that your child or pet is with you. Always turn around to check the back seat before you leave the car. It is surprisingly common for people to forget that they have children or pets with them if they are quiet or sleeping. Put your child’s bags or other items in the front seat so it’s less likely that you will forget you are travelling with them.

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