In the middle of a record-setting heat wave, two children were left in a van in a Chilliwack Walmart parking lot on Sunday.
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail confirmed police were called out to Eagle Landing around 7 p.m. on June 27 along with firefighters and BC Ambulance paramedic.
He said a three-year-old and a 12-year-old were immediately removed from the van by officers, and he said they “were OK.” They were taken by ambulance to hospital and are now with their father.
The mother, a 32-year-old woman, was located in Walmart around 8 p.m. and was arrested at the scene. Rail noted at she was allegedly in possession of a substance contrary to the Controlled Drug and Substance Act.
She was later released and the police investigation continues into why the children were left in the van to wait on a day when the temperature outside got as high as 42.2 C.
People commenting on Facebook were appalled.
“Even after being paged to go to their car, an hour went by and they still weren’t coming,” Channy Kiniak wrote.
“Omg who would do this do they not understand how quickly this could kill them??” Marcy Barrett added.
Several posters suggested the vehicle’s windows should have been smashed to free the kids, but Rail said bystanders did the right thing by calling police.
Smashing a vehicle’s windows in can have consequences if you aren’t 100 per cent certain what the situation is.
“First responders were there quickly and got the children out of the vehicle right away,” he said. “It is a good reminder that people should use caution when leaving children in a vehicle for any length of time on any kind of hot day, but especially at a time when we’re experiencing record-breaking temperatures.”
According to healthykids.org, a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s does, and major organs begin to shut down when his/her core temperature reaches 40 C. A child can die when his/her core temperature reaches 41.6 C.
According to canadasafetycouncil.org, a study funded by General Motors of Canada found that after 20 minutes, the air temperature in a previously air-conditioned small car exposed to the sun on a 35-c day climbed to 50 C, and within 40 minutes, it rose to 65.5 C.
The study noted that leaving a window slightly open did little to prevent the inside the vehicle from becoming dangerously hot.