Edmonton animal control staff and emergency crews are reminding drivers not to leave pets and children in hot vehicles as the city grapples with a high-pressure system heatwave making its way across Alberta.

Firefighters have been dispatched to 24 calls regarding pets locked in vehicles since July 1, an Edmonton Fire Rescue Services spokesperson told Global News on Wednesday.

First responders have also responded to five calls involving children or adults locked in vehicles, EFRS added.

Leaving kids or pets in the car can be a fatal mistake, as temperatures can quickly become dangerous — if not deadly — within minutes.

In July 2023, Edmonton fire responded to 63 locked-in vehicle calls, 32 of which involved pets and 31 involved people. They were also called out to 84 locked in vehicle incidents in July 2022.

“We would like to take this opportunity to urge all Edmontonians to reconsider travel plans if there is a possibility that a child or pet may be left unattended in a vehicle, even for a moment,” Edmonton fire said in an emailed statement.

Click to play video: 'Ontario SPCA is asking pet owners to take the “No Hot Pets Pledge”'

Heat warnings remain in effect for much of Alberta as a high-pressure system moves across the province. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Edmonton temperatures were projected to reach 37 C on Wednesday — almost the highest temperature ever on record in the city.

Police have also responded to two complaints of children or pets locked in vehicles in recent weeks.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Edmonton Police Service was called to the West Edmonton Mall parking to investigate a complaint about a dog left in an unattended vehicle. The temperature outside had reached 36 C, EPS said.

Police spokesperson Cheryl Voordenhout told Global News the driver returned to the vehicle after 45 minutes, where they were arrested and charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

“Leave your pets at home. It’s the safest place for them,” said Dan Kobe, director of communications for the Alberta SPCA.

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“They have the things that will help them manage the heat and then you don’t have to worry about having to run into the store for even five minutes because that five minutes might be enough to put your animal into distress.”

Edmonton resident Luceo Vrouwe keeps a spray bottle and water bottle in his backpack to keep his dogs cool.

Edmonton resident Luceo Vrouwe keeps a spray bottle and water bottle in his backpack to keep his dogs cool.

Global News

Tips for keeping your pet cool include providing them with fresh water, keeping them out of the sun and brushing their coats to promote air circulation.

“I have a spray bottle in my backpack and I have a water bottle for them with a bowl and stuff, just in case it gets a bit too hot for them and I can water them down,” said Luceo Vrouwe, who brought his dogs to the Terwillegar Dog Park to take a dip on Wednesday.

At the Edmonton Valley Zoo, a number of animals require special care and creative solutions to stay comfortable in extreme heat.

Trevor Hickey, seasonal animal care crew lead at the Zoo, said staff have also been inventive in devising new and different ways of keeping animals cool.

“This year, they soaked a bunch of straw into mats and gave it to the reindeer because reindeer are really far north animals,” he said.

“The straw mats (were) put in the barn, and the reindeer were able to lay on them and stuff and they stayed cool and kind of crispy for some time.”

Click to play video: 'Toddler dies in Long Island after left in hot car for hours'

Charges are pending against an Edmonton woman after officers were called on June 29 to a grocery store parking lot near 185th Street and Stony Plain Road, where a Walmart Supercentre is located.

Voordenhout said police had received a report of a “child needing intervention.”

“Upon police arrival, it was determined that the female suspect had parked her vehicle, took two young children into the store and left a toddler in the vehicle, which was locked and turned off,” she said in an email.

“After the child was in the vehicle for nearly 50 minutes, witnesses forced the rear window down and took the child out. Charges are pending against an adult female.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary police and bylaw receive dozens of calls regarding animals in hot cars'

Voordenhout said police are actively reminding the public that leaving children and pets in unattended vehicles is unsafe during extreme heat.

On a warm day, even vehicles parked in the shade with the windows rolled down can reach a staggering 49 C in minutes, she said.

Because of their size, extreme heat affects children much more quickly and dramatically. Their core temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult. Even with the air conditioning on, police say the risk to a child is still too great.

“If you see a child or pet in distress, call 911 immediately,” said Voordenhout.

Anyone who spots a child in a hot vehicle can lawfully break a vehicle’s window if there are indicators of heat- or cold-induced distress, police say.

Click to play video: 'Kids in hot cars: How long does it take before it becomes deadly?'

In Canada, around one child per year dies of being trapped inside overheated cars according to a report by the Hospital for Sick Children.

The majority of these incidents occur when a caregiver forgets that their child is inside the vehicle.

As for pets, they get heatstroke even quicker than kids do because they can’t cool themselves off by sweating, police added.

5 signs of distress to watch for

  1. Excessive panting or drooling.
  2. The dog’s tongue has turned dark purple.
  3. The animal is behaving frantically — pawing at the window, or trying to stick its nose out.
  4. Loss of control of bowels.
  5. Lethargic, and unresponsive behaviour.

— with files from Jaclyn Kucey, Karen Bartko and Kathryn Mannie, Global News