Florida's Department of Children and Families and Highway Patrol Offices Urge Drivers to "Look before you Lock"

 

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Carrie Hoeppner
407-264-1379
DCF Communications

Sgt. Kim Montes
407-797-2707
Florida Highway Patrol
 
Florida's Department of Children and Families and Highway Patrol Offices
Urge Drivers to "Look before you Lock"
~ Sweltering Temps in Hot Cars Can Prove Fatal for Children, Vulnerable Adults and Pets During Florida's Summertime Heat ~
 
ORLANDO, FLA.As temperatures swell in Central Florida and across the state, the Department of Children and Families along with the Florida Highway Patrol ask parents and caregivers to pay particular attention to their tiniest passengers. Collectively the agencies remind all Floridians this summer that it is in never OK to leave young children, vulnerable adults or pets in unattended hot cars. High temperatures outside of a vehicle equate to extreme temperatures inside. A child, vulnerable adult or animal can suffer from a potentially fatal or debilitating heat stroke within a minutes. In one national study, the leading cause for children left unattended in "hot" vehicles was attributed to drivers simply forgetting that a child was in the car and leaving them behind. As summer schedules bring change and infants/toddlers regularly nap within car seats, drivers sometimes "forget" that quiet little ones are in the back seat. Drivers carrying "precious cargo" should create a back up system to remind them to check for sleeping tiny passengers such as a ribbon on a dash: to look before they lock.

Here in the state of Florida, it is a second degree misdemeanor to leave a child younger than age 6 in an unattended car for a period in excess of 15 minutes. Temperatures inside a car during summer months have the potential to rise up to 200 degrees F. A child's thermoregulatory system is not as efficient as an adult's, meaning a child's core body temperature can rise 3 to 5 times faster than that of an adult with the greater potential for a heat stroke.

Each year, DCF and FHP investigate incidents where children and vulnerable adults have been left unattended in vehicles during sweltering summer days. Every year, there is a preventable tragedy.

In the state of Florida, it is illegal to leave a child under the age of 6 unattended or unsupervised in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes.

Anyone who sees a young child or vulnerable adult left unattended in a vehicle during these extreme summer temperatures should contact emergency personnel immediately.

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Attached: Florida State Statute 316.6135

Florida State Statute:

316.6135 Leaving children unattended or unsupervised in motor vehicles; penalty; authority of law enforcement officer.

(1) A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age may not leave such child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle:

(a) For a period in excess of 15 minutes;

(b) For any period of time if the motor of the vehicle is running or the health of the child is in danger.

(2) Any person who violates the provisions of paragraph (1)(a) commits a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(3) Any person who violates the provisions of paragraph (1)(b) is guilty of a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable by a fine not less than $50 and not more than $500.

(4) Any person who violates subsection (1) and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a child commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(5) Any law enforcement officer who observes a child left unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle in violation of subsection (1) may use whatever means are reasonably necessary to protect the minor child and to remove the child from the vehicle.

(6) If the child is removed from the immediate area, notification should be placed on the vehicle.

(7) The child shall be remanded to the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services pursuant to chapter 39, unless the law enforcement officer is able to locate the parents or legal guardian or other person responsible