General News
Posted July 2, 2014
All Children’s Hospital, Suncoast Safe Kids and St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Highlight the Dangers of Leaving Kids in Hot Cars

Dr. Beth Walford and Lt. Steve Lawrence
Dr. Beth Walford with St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Steve Lawrence 

At a press conference on Monday, representatives from All Children's Hospital, the Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition and St. Petersburg Fire Rescue discussed the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles, especially during the summer heat. In 2014 alone, Safe Kids reports 13 children across the country have died due to heatstroke - two of those incidents happened in Florida.

The press conference also highlighted new statistics released by St. Petersburg Fire Rescue showing 183 emergency responses for children locked in vehicles in Pinellas County during the past year. Lt. Steve Lawrence, Deputy Fire Marshal and Public Information Officer for St. Petersburg Fire Rescue said the city led the county with 32 percent of those calls.

"It really is heartbreaking what happens to a child after being left in a hot vehicle," said Dr. Beth Walford, Safe Kids Medical Director and pediatric surgeon at All Children's Hospital. "First their body temperature starts to rise, they start sweating, and once they get to a certain temperature they can experience nausea, vomiting seizures and organ failure. The more knowledge we can put out there the more I hope we can prevent that from happening."

To demonstrate how fast a vehicle can heat up during the summertime, the team used a large thermometer outside a car donated by Maher Chevrolet which displayed the temperature outside and the temperature inside the car. While the temperature outside reached about 93 degrees, by the end of the press conference the temperature inside the vehicle shot up to 120 degrees. Research shows that the temperature in a vehicle rises an estimated 19 degrees within the first ten minutes, and continues to rise over time.

Safe Kids Worldwide offers the following tips to "ACT" quickly to ensure no one leaves a child behind in a vehicle:

  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Always lock your doors and trunks - even in your driveway - and keep keys out of kids' reach.
  • C: Create reminders. Place something you'll need at your next stop - like a briefcase or cell phone - next to the child safety seat.
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, take action and call 911.

For more information on how to get a free hang tag or bracelet reminder for your car, contact the Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition.