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Hamilton Doctor Locks Himself In Hot Car To Show Dangers Of Heat On Kids

He's trying to raise awareness with his experiment.

07/21/2017 11:07 EDT | Updated 07/21/2017 11:07 EDT
Hamilton Health Sciences/Facebook

It's common sense that with summer comes sweltering heat, but that hasn't stopped parents from leaving kids in hot cars.

On average, 37 children die per year from heat stroke in cars in the U.S. While there are no statistics available for Canada, there has been an uptick in news stories reporting these incidents.

That's why one Hamilton doctor conducted a hot car experiment to prove just how dangerous it is to leave a child in a car during the summer months.

On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Crocco, the chief of pediatric emergency at Hamilton's McMaster Children's Hospital, sat in a Jeep 4x4 in the hospital's parking lot for 15 minutes. That day, the outside temperature was 30 C, but felt like 37 C with the humidity, CBC reports. And the interior of the car was even hotter, reaching up to 40 C.

If I was a little child that was strapped into a car seat ... I think it would be considerably worse than this.

"I feel thirsty and I feel uncomfortable and so I can only imagine if it was a hotter day today or if I was a little child that was strapped into a car seat what that would feel like, and I think it would be considerably worse than this," Dr. Crocco said to reporters during a livestream of the experiment, which was shared on Hamilton Health Sciences' Facebook page.

After only five minutes in the car, the doctor was already starting to feel the effects of the heat, which included sweating, dry mouth and exhaustion.

Hamilton Health Science/Facebook
Dr. Anthony Crocco conducting his hot car experiment.

Michelle Greenspoon, a local paramedic who was on standby, explained: "His breathing rate increased just slightly. His heart rate increased just slightly, so those are signs that his body is compensating."

According to Dr. Crocco, the body eventually stops sweating when it becomes too hot. This can be dangerous because that means "your body no longer can control the heat and your heat starts to rise." This can then lead to heat stroke, seizures and sometimes death.

Because children are smaller, their bodies can shut down four to five times faster than an adult. Considering Crocco only lasted 15 minutes in the car, that means a child would only last mere minutes after feeling the effects of the heat.

On Facebook, many users thanked Dr. Crocco and his team for raising awareness about leaving kids in hot cars.

There were 65 heat-related emergencies in Hamilton last year, and 17 of those incidents involved children, paramedic Greenspoon said.

There are many reasons these incidents occur. In some cases, parents unintentionally forget their kids in the car due to stress or a change in routine. In other instances, children are accidentally locked in a vehicle. But most often, parents simply don't realize the dangers of leaving their kids in hot cars.

A prime example was earlier this month when a Vancouver police officer lectured a mother who saw nothing wrong with leaving her six- and three-year-old kids in a car for 20 minutes.

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