It happens more often than you would think: A child left, most often forgotten, in the back of an overheated car suffer heatstroke and all too frequently death.
It happened in Milton, Ont., last week. And it almost happened against in Toronto days later. Now, Edmonton police confirm the death of a three-year-old boy found locked in a hot vehicle in the city's northeast end.
The Edmonton Journal reports that the child died in hospital late Tuesday evening after being pulled from a vehicle as temperatures soared above 30 C.
Earlier that day, Edmonton police had issued a warning, appealing for families to take care to avoid such cases. “Leaving a child unattended for any amount of time is very dangerous,” Sgt. Barry Fairhurst had warned.
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It is tragic to hear of such a senseless death. A child, most cherished by parents and family alike, forgotten, abandoned or simply allowed to slip from sight long enough to fatally overheat. It is more tragic still that it happens so often.
In Milton, Ont., a funeral was held on Wednesday for a child who died under similar circumstances.
Two-year-old Maximus Huyskens died on June 26 after being locked inside a red Chevrolet Cruze in Milton, Ont., for what police said was an "extended period of time."
Halton Regional Police said the child had been left in the care of his grandmother, a woman in her fifties.
"Homicide Unit detectives are still conducting canvasses in the area and interviews to determine the exact sequence of events that led to this tragedy," police said in a statement.
Blame was not laid at the funeral. According to CBC News, family, friends and strangers were united in grief. "The death of Maximus seems so senseless, so wasteful and so inconsistent with all we know," the priest said.
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Indeed, this is a sadness that can strike even the most peaceful family and responsible parent. The Canadian Safety Council (CSC) warns against leaving children alone in cars, even for a brief moment.
It adds that such tragedy can strike whether distracted parents simply forget their child is in the car, or whether they think they can slip in a few errands as their child naps.
QMI Agency reports that a Toronto mother was charged with child abandonment last Friday after police were called by a concerned citizen to pull a child from a locked car parked outside a shopping plaza. The near-miss came just two days after Maximus had overheated not far away.
The CSC says that when it comes to summer heat, a child can go into shock and suffer organ failure after being in an overheating car for just a few minutes.
"Children are especially sensitive to heat exposure because their sweat glands are not fully developed, which means their bodies are not capable of cooling down quickly," the council says. "When exposed to heat, a child’s body temperature rises three times faster than an adult in the same conditions."
A U.S. group studying child heatstroke deaths says that 15 children have died after being left in a car already this year. In 2012, that number reached 32. Thirty-two American children were left in a car, even for a few moments, and died as a result.
Similar statistics aren't available for Canada, but the Canadian Safety Council estimate is between four and six children each year.
So far this summer, we’ve lost two in the past two weeks. Take care out there.