An Accredited Florida Law Enforcement Agency

Leaving Kids Alone in Hot Cars – Know the Risks and Consequences

Yulee, FL. – Even great parents can forget a child in the back seat, but caregivers who are unaccustomed to transporting children are especially prone to forgetting.

Think about the last time your routine was interrupted. Maybe you forgot something, or were afraid you might forget something. Or maybe you decided to leave your child alone in the car, thinking “I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” In either case, it’s important to know the risks and consequences associated with leaving kids in cars – especially hot cars.

“Shopping with children can be challenging. The process of buckling and unbuckling a child repeatedly to take him/her in and out of the car for errands may become unpleasant for both of you” said Sheriff Bill Leeper. “As tempting as it is to leave your child behind in the car, leaving a youngster unattended in a vehicle might lead to serious consequences.”

• In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
• With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
• A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
• Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside!
• A child can die when his/her temperature reaches 107.

• The heat-related death of a child
• Misdemeanor with fines as high as $500 – and even imprisonment – in some states *Felony, depending on the state, if bodily harm results from leaving kids alone in a hot car

According to Florida State Statute 316.6135, parents, legal guardians or caregivers of children younger than 6 may not leave them unattended or unsupervised in any kind of motor vehicle for longer than 15 minutes. If the vehicle is running, or if the child is in any danger, no amount of unattended time is acceptable. Officers are instructed to remove the unattended child immediately. Individuals could face fines up to $500 or jail time.

Any Florida law enforcement officer who sees a child alone or unsupervised in a motor vehicle is instructed to do whatever is necessary to remove the child from the vehicle. After removing the child, the officer places paperwork notification of the child’s whereabouts inside the car. If the officer is immediately unable to find the parents, legal guardian or caregiver, the child will be placed with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services.

Prevention Tips to Avoid a Tragic Heatstroke
• Never leave a child alone in a car.
• Don’t let your kids play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
• Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
• Keep a large teddy bear or other stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s empty. Move the teddy bear to the front seat when you place the child in the seat as a visual reminder.
• If you are dropping your children off at childcare, but normally your spouse or partner drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure they were not left in the car.
• Become vigilant about looking in the vehicle before locking the door. Always look front and back before walking away – always!

“Leaving a child alone in a vehicle – even for just a minute – is a bad idea,” Leeper said. “Left unattended, a child in a vehicle is vulnerable to abduction and dehydration. Please don’t take the chance.”