The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) wants to remind parents to “Look Before You Lock.” The effect of high temperatures on vehicles is a dangerous threat to young children left behind in cars, especially during the summer.
In 2013, five children died in Florida because they were left in hot vehicles, including one child from Miami-Dade County. So far in 2014, two children have died because they were left inside hot cars.
The temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees in only 10 minutes. The heat can be deadly, especially for children, because their body temperatures rise five times faster than adults.
“During these hot summer months, it is important that we work together as a community to ensure no child suffers as a result of being left in a hot car,” said Gilda Ferradaz, regional managing director at DCF’s Southern Region. “We encourage parents to take the necessary steps to ensure they always have eyes on their children, and we hope that through this campaign we let people know that leaving a child in a hot vehicle is dangerous and, in some cases, can even be fatal.”
Although it may be hard to believe, children can easily be left behind in the car when parents are distracted, rushing, multi-tasking or have a change in routine.
Here are some tips to keep your kids safe:
• Be sure to check the back seat before you leave the vehicle.
• Put your purse, briefcase, lunch, etc. in the backseat so you are sure to look before you lock the door.
• Do not let your children play near vehicles; they may accidentally lock themselves in.
• If there is a change in plans and someone else is dropping the kids off at school, have them call you at drop off so you know everyone made it safely.
• Call 911 immediately if you see a child locked in a hot car.
In Florida it is a criminal offense to leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Anyone who sees a young child or vulnerable adult unattended in a vehicle should contact emergency personnel immediately.
For information, visit online at www.MyFLFamilies.com/SummerSafety.
Ana Valdes is communications director, DCF Southern Region.