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Baby / Pet On-Board Safety Awareness

There is no excuse to leave a baby, child, or pet in a hot, parked vehicle ever. The Wilton Manors Police Department (WMPD) Every YEar cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to leave a young child or pet in a hot, parked vehicle. WMPD wants to educate the community about these dangers and how simple it can be to remember your “Precious Cargo” is on-board. As the temperatures begin to go up, sadly so do the number of children and pets who die after being left inside hot vehicles.  Already in 2016 there have been several deaths nationwide. Leaving a young child or pet in a hot, parked vehicle can cause heatstroke (aka hyperthermia).  In the simplest terms it describes heat-related illnesses when a body’s temperature exceeds its normal range.  If a body is subjected to extreme temperatures it can overwhelm the body’s ability to cool itself. This is especially true for infants and young children whose body’s heat at a rate of three to five times faster than an adult.  If a person’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees (the clinical definition for heat stroke) their cooling system is overwhelmed to the point it begins to shut down. Continued exposure to very high temperatures can produce brain damage, and at 107 degrees cells with the body start to die and organs begin to shut down, quickly leading to death. 

According to, a public safety awareness website for child safety, there have been 77 child vehicular heat stroke fatalities in the State of Florida between 1990 and 2015 (Please note: this should be considered an undercount of the actual number of child vehicular heat stroke fatalities due to no official state data collection systems). Nationwide, 754 children have died from being left in a hot vehicle. Here are a few other facts and tips to keep your child and pet safe.

The Greenhouse Effect in Vehicles: 

  • The inside of a vehicle heats up VERY quickly! Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 to 125 degrees in minutes.  
  • Cracking the windows does not help slow the heating process OR decrease the maximum temperature 
  • 80% of the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes 
  • Children have died from heatstroke in cars in temps as low as 60 degrees.

Contributing Factors:
  • Changes in normal daily routine, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue, and distractions. 
  • Rear-facing car seats look the same whether there is a baby in it or not. 
  • Children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their rear-facing child safety seats; becoming quiet, unobtrusive little passengers.

Some Safety Tips:
  • Never leave Children or Pets alone in or around cars; not even for a minute. 
  • “Look Before You Lock” - Get in the habit of always opening the back door to check the back seat before leaving your vehicle. Make sure no child or pet has been left behind. 
  • Create a reminder to check the back seat: 
    • Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID, or brief case, etc., in the back seat so that you have to open the back door to retrieve that item every time you park.
    • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat.  If your “Precious Cargo” is your pet place your pet’s leash or pet toy in the front with the driver as a reminder that you have your pet in the vehicle with you. It's a visual reminder that the child or pet is in the back seat. 
  • Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop-off. Everyone involved in the care of your child should always be aware of their whereabouts. If your child will not be attending daycare as scheduled, it is the parent’s responsibility to call and inform the childcare provider. If your child does not show up as scheduled; and they have not received a call from the parent, the childcare provider pledges to contact you immediately to ensure the safety of your child. (this is very similar to the ‘absence-line’ used by most elementary, middle, and high schools). 
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.  Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children. 
  • If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them. 
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible. 
  • Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes, and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
  • Use drive-thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) and pay for gas at the pump. 

Florida State Statute 316.6135- Leaving children unattended or unsupervised in motor vehicles states that a parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age may not leave the 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, the health of the child is in danger, or the child appears to be in distress.

Any person who violates this statute could commit a misdemeanor of the second degree, could be found guilty of a noncriminal traffic infraction, could be punished by a fine not less than $50 and not more than $500, could commit a felony of the third degree if leaving the child in the vehicle causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a child. 

Look before you leave
Did you know effective as of March 8, 2016 Florida State Statute 768.139 HB 131- Unattended Persons and Animals in Motor Vehicles provides immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle related to the rescue of a vulnerable person or animal under certain circumstances. 

Under this new law, individuals can't be sued for breaking into a car to rescue someone, so long as they have:
 - First checked the vehicle is locked
 - Called 9-1-1 / notified Law Enforcement before entering the vehicle or
   immediately after doing so

 - Uses no more force than is necessary to break in
 - And remains with the person or animal until first-responders arrive.


WMPD urges you to call 9-1-1 if you see a baby, child, or pet left in a hot, parked vehicle. To help in reminding you of your “Precious Cargo” WMPD will be providing stickers for you to place on your vehicle’s window so that you do not leave your most valuable cargo (your child and/or pet that is) inside your HOT vehicle. Every time you enter and exit your vehicle you’ll be reminded by the sticker to check for your child and/or pet. 
Baby on Board