Escambia County Fire Rescue urges citizens to never leave children alone in cars and to be extra cautious during these warm summer months. According to the National Safety Council, there have been over 800 child deaths due to vehicular heatstroke with 2018 being the deadliest year on record with 53 child fatalities. Of the 800 fatalities recorded, 24% of those were in employer parking lots while the parent or guardian went to work. The causes of the tragedies are simply being in too big of a hurry and forgetting.
In Escambia County, there was one 2-year-old and a pet fatality in 2019. So far in 2020, Escambia County first responders have gone on nine calls for help with children being left in cars. Fortunately, there have been no injuries or fatalities. Florida ranks second in the U.S. for vehicular heatstroke.
“It is crucial that the public be aware to look before they lock," said Ray Melton, Escambia County fire and life safety specialist. "These tragedies are avoidable if citizens are mindful of vehicle and child safety. We have very hot summers here in Florida and fire crews have already responded to many calls for children locked in vehicles."
Leaving your child in the car for only a “few minutes” may seem harmless, but the situation can escalate quickly.
“On a cloudy day when the temperature is 85 degrees outside, the inside temperature of a car will get to 104 degrees in just 10 minutes," added Melton. "Children have smaller bodies and their core temperature can rapidly reach 104 degrees or greater. When the body's core temperature reaches 104 degrees, the body begins to shut down. Although people assume it would never happen to them, even leaving your child in the car for a 'few minutes' can be dangerous."
Studies have shown that cracking the windows does NOT provide proper ventilation of heat and only circulates it. "To put it simply, you are turning an oven into a convection oven only circulating dangerous heat," Melton said.
Escambia County Fire Rescue encourages citizens to help protect children by never leaving your child alone in the car. Together, we can prevent misfortune by remembering to, “Look Before You Lock!”