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First Responders Raise Awareness To Prevent Leaving Children in Cars

North Collier Fire Rescue responders prepare to break a car window during a demonstration to show how they respond to calls reporting a child left in a car.
North Collier Fire Rescue responders prepare to break a car window during a demonstration to show how they respond to calls reporting a child left in a car.

In recognition of National Heatstroke Prevention Day, the Safe Kids Coalition of Southwest Florida partnered with first responders in Collier County to share tips on how to prevent leaving a child in a car and what to do if a person encounters a child left in a car.

Sally Kreuscher, from the Safe Kids Coalition said parents and caregivers should not leave kids in cars—not even for a minute.

"In just 10 minutes, the inside of a vehicle can heat up 19 degrees," Kreuscher said. "Children’s bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults so unfortunately, in just a short amount of time, their body temperatures can rise very rapidly."

Kreuscher said in Florida’s notoriously hot temperatures, a child’s body temperature can rise to 104 degrees in a matter in minutes, triggering organ failure.

Since 1998, more than 790 kids in the U.S. have died from vehicle related heatstroke. Kreuscher said 54 percent of those cases were because caregivers simply forgot they had a child in the car.

Kreuscher said simple tips like leaving a purse or briefcase in the backseat when a child is present will force the driver to check the back seat before exiting the car.

If a person finds a child in a car, Kreuscher said it is vital that they take action quickly. Good Samaritan laws apply to people who intervene.

"They can break the window, they need to call 911," Kreuscher said. "We want to make sure that a child—even a pet, is not in danger."

So far this year, four children in Florida have died from hyperthermia, or heatstroke, after being left in cars.

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