By Pauline Kerr
A number of years ago, a group of enterprising journalists decided to test the saying, “hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.”
The weather was horrendously hot, similar to what has been suffered in various parts of Canada during recent heat waves. The other two requirements for the experiment – eggs and a sidewalk – were easily found.
The truth was soon discovered – eggs do not fry on a concrete sidewalk; they congeal into a smelly glob that attracts ants. Nor do they fry on asphalt, although they congeal faster. As for the hood of a car – they stick, and paint comes off with the eggy mess.
Best results occurred when the egg was placed on a piece of aluminum foil inside a car with the windows up. That led to an experiment involving human volunteers. No one could stay in a hot car, even with the windows down an inch or two, for longer than a few seconds.
The message is clear – that two or three minutes it takes to pop into the convenience store for a loaf of bread will seem like an eternity in hell for a child or pet left in the car on a warm, sunny day. Even on cloudy days when the temperature is moderate, the car’s interior temperature can rise up to 20 C above the outside temperature.
Getting stuck at the cash while the neighbourhood lotto junkie checks tickets can put the child or pet left in the car in life-threatening danger. Anyone who doubts the truth in that, should sit in a car on a sunny, warm day with the windows rolled up, and a stop watch.
Take the child into the store with you or postpone the visit to the convenience store, and do Fido a favour – leave him at home in air-conditioned comfort or under a shady tree, with a full water bowl and a chew toy.
Excessive heat does bad things to the body. Mascara migrating south with perspiration is the least of it. Dehydration is dangerous – and feeling thirsty is the first sign a person is dehydrated and needs to drink some water. Under extreme conditions – and a hot car qualifies – it takes only a short time before a person feels nauseated, dizzy and faint.
Every summer, too many children and pets are left in hot cars. With any luck, someone notices and calls police. Not everyone is lucky. Children have been left in cars, sometimes by accident, and have died.
People who leave children in hot cars “only for five minutes” could face charges under the Criminal Code, and are subject to child welfare laws.
Most children who have died in hot cars were very young, strapped into car seats. Children that age are helpless, unable to get out of the car, open a window or grab a cellphone to call 911.
Parents who have to ask themselves if a child is old enough and capable enough to get to safety, open car doors and windows confidently and without assistance, and either call 911 or ask a passerby to do so, already have the answer they need.
Relaxing in a cool tub of water, discovering the joys of running through the sprinkler or splash pad, enjoying a popsicle under a shady tree, or heading to the library for a lovely, cool afternoon are all delightful options to spending time in a hot car.
As for Fido, many of us do consider our dog our best buddy. We have to keep in mind our best buddy is no more capable of surviving in a stifling car than a young child is – in fact, he is less able to survive. Dogs have fur and do not perspire. Taking a child into the store is an option; taking Fido into the store usually is not. While we enjoy travelling with our canine buddy, his needs have to take precedence over our enjoyment of his company.
Just think of that egg on the aluminum foil in the hot car as someone’s brain.