COLUMN: Lyle Karasiuk — July 3, 2014

Lyle Karasiuk
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For many of us vacation is full swing while for others it is just around the corner. While the hustle and bustle of everyday life is replaced with a more leisurely pace, we should still all be safety conscious. A moment of inattention can produce devastating results.

Children who were babies last year may be excellent climbers now and parents should keep in mind that although toddlers love to look out windows, they don’t understand the risks of falling. Parents can still enjoy having the windows open in the summer while keeping their children safe by using safety devices. 

Parents can install a window guard, sold at hardware stores and some department stores, or safety specialty stores.  This forms a barrier, like security bars, but lighter weight and closely spaced.  They need to have a quick-release mechanism to allow for fire escape.

A window screen is only good for keeping the bugs out it is not strong enough to hold the weight of a child.

Parents can also install a window safety device, which stops the window from opening more than 10 centimetres (four inches).  A child cannot fall through this small space.  A simpler measure could include using screws in the window frame to prevent the window from opening more than 10 centimetres. 

If parents cannot use window guards, it is important to keep furniture away from windows -- as well as balcony railings -- to prevent young children from climbing up and falling.

Don’t forget about blind cords too. I was installing a new blind at home this past week and noticed in a big orange label a warning to prevent strangulation of a child by shortening up the blind cords to keep them out of reach.

Please don't leave kids or pets in hot cars. The inside of a car can heat up quickly to temperatures that could hurt or kill a child or family pet. The temperature inside a parked car can exceed 50 C (122 F) within 10-20 minutes on a typical sunny summer day in Canada.

Within 40 minutes, it will get so hot that a child inside the car could die. Opening the window slightly does not keep the temperature at a safe level.

Young children -- especially infants -- are three to five times more sensitive to heat than adults. Young children have small body sizes and do not regulate their body temperatures as quickly as adults. Rising temperatures inside a car can cause a child to suffer from heat stress, dehydration and even shock.

 

To keep children safe in cars this summer:

• Never leave a child alone in a car-even with the windows down.

• Always lock car doors and trunks and keep keys out of children's reach. Your child or someone else's child could get into the car and get trapped.

• Ensure all children leave the car when you have reached your destination. Remember to remove sleeping infants and children in car seats.

• If your car has been parked outside on a hot day, make sure the car seat and seat belts are not too hot before buckling your children in the car.

• Carry plenty of water or other fluids when traveling with children or pets to prevent them from dehydrating.

Hot weather is not only hard on your vehicle but puts added stress on your body. Stay cool, take frequent rest breaks, drink plenty of fluids and try to be as comfortable as possible.

If air conditioning is not available a simple fan can reduce your body’s temperature a few degrees. Take frequent showers or bathes, head to a cool place like the common area in an apartment, the public library or the mall. Anywhere to get a break from the heat. Stay cool this summer!

 

Lyle Karasiuk is the director of public affairs for Parkland Ambulance in Prince Albert.

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Canada

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