Police warn parents after charging mother with leaving baby in locked car

A mother has been charged by Edmonton police after an eight-month-old baby was left alone inside a parked car Thursday night. Police are reminding parents not to use their vehicles as babysitters.

'The bottom line is, a vehicle is not a babysitter'

Edmonton police are warning parents not to leave their children or pets in vehicles after rescuing a baby Thursday evening. (Shutterstock)

Edmonton police are warning parents to never leave their children unattended in cars after an eight-month-old baby was left alone inside a locked car Thursday night.

In the past five or six days, Edmonton police have responded to four reports of children left unattended in vehicles, Sgt. Lael Sauter with the Child at Risk Response Team said Friday. The reports have become "almost a daily occurrence," he said.

On Thursday at about 8:30 p.m. , police were called after a bystander noticed a child in a car in a strip mall parking lot in the area of 55th Street and 167th Avenue in the northeast Edmonton neighbourhood of Hollick-Kenyon.

A window was left open a crack. The baby girl had been left alone inside in the sunny parking lot for about 10 minutes, police said.

Temperatures at the time were hovering around 26 degrees. A heat warning had been issued for the Edmonton region Thursday. 

Paramedics were the first to arrive on scene and the found the baby who was "not very responsive," police said in a news release.

The child was brought to the Stollery Children's Hospital for assessment, but was unharmed in the incident. 

The girl's 22-year-old mother was charged with causing a child to be in need of intervention under the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

She has been released from custody, pending her first court appearance.

Mom went for coffee, forgot baby: police

The mother told police that she brought her baby with her to meet up with a friend for coffee and forgot the infant in the vehicle, police said.

With sweltering temperatures expected throughout the weekend, police are reminding citizens to never leave their children and pets unattended in a vehicle.

Much of the province, including the capital region, remains under a heat advisory. Such warnings are issued by Environment Canada when high temperatures increase the risk of heat-related illness or danger.

Edmonton reached a high of 28 degrees Thursday afternoon and Environment Canada is forecasting even higher temperatures this weekend.  

"A child's safety is top priority, regardless of the weather or inconvenience," Sauter said in a statement.

"Leaving a child alone in a vehicle is dangerous and can cause them medical distress; at its worst, be a cause of death. This incident could have had a tragic ending."

Police are encouraging parents to take caution in these extreme temperatures. They recommend using drive-through services, and planning family outings in advance.

"A vehicle is a false sense of security," said Sauter. "It takes seconds for a child to be put at risk. They could accidently put the vehicle in motion, exit the vehicle and wander off or your automobile could be stolen with your children inside.

"If a member of the public sees a child in a vehicle that is in distress, call 911 immediately. Stay with the child until help arrives.

"The bottom line is, a vehicle is not a babysitter."

Paramedic Alex Campbell, a public information officer with Alberta Health Services, said EMS crews have responded to 12 calls for heat-related emergencies in the past seven days.

The cases range from the eight-month-old left in the car to people who start feeling faint while they are doing yard work, Campbell said.