High Temps Mean Hot Cars, Time to "Look before you Lock"

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May 23, 2013

Carrie Hoeppner
Central Region Communications Director

High Temps Mean Hot Cars, Time to "Look before you Lock"
Sweltering Temps in Hot Cars Can Prove Fatal for Children, Vulnerable Adults and Pets During Florida's Summer Heat

Orlando, Fl. – As temperatures begin to swell in Central Florida and across the state, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) asks everyone to pay particular attention to their tiniest passengers. A child, vulnerable adult or animal can experience a debilitating heat stroke or worse within minutes of being left in a vehicle where temperatures have the potential to sore to 200 degrees during Florida's summer heat. In a matter of minutes, temperatures can rise to deadly levels. The crack of a window, even by inches, is no match to combat the rising heat. One national study reports that 33 children in 2011 lost their lives after being left in unattended motor vehicles which is why the Department suggests parents set reminders to avoid leaving a quiet sleeping little one behind. Placing a purse or briefcase in the back-seat next to a child is an additional assurance to remind parents to look behind before exiting a car.

Already this year, the loss of a Miami 11-month-old whose body temperature reached 109 degrees is a sad reminder that quiet children can easily be left behind when parents are distracted, rushing, multi-tasking or have a change in routine. Here in Central Florida, the Department hopes to go another year without the report of such tragedy.

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

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. While many of these tragedies are accidental, some are not, all are preventable. Here in the state of Florida, it is a criminal offense to leave a child unattended in a vehicle as defined below, however, sadly for some parents, the loss is much greater than that of any arrest or prosecution.


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.