A child's body temperature heats up five times faster than an adult's, Sheriff Staly said.
After 19 minutes in 91-degree weather, the white car’s internal temperature had reached 111 degrees — at least 20 degrees warmer than its starting temperature.
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with Florida Department of Children and Families during a sweltering, sunny day in the parking lot outside Target on State Road 100 in Palm Coast on Aug. 25 to demonstrate how dangerous it is to leave a child or pet in a car.
“When you think you’re just going to run into the store for just a minute, you’re usually in there for an average of 15 to 30 minutes,” said Patricia Medlock, DCF northeast regional managing director.
While FCSO Personal Information Officer Brittany Kershaw said the last “close call” incident with a child left in a hot car in Flagler County was in 2015, deputies are called to a hot car incident an average of once a week for a child and about once a day for pets, said FCSO Corporal Joseph Barile.
“Even if you leave your car running to run into the store, your car could have a malfunction and shut off, and you’re inside the store and your car is now a sauna that child,” said Charles Puckett, Circuit 7 community development administrator.
Sheriff Rick Staly added that leaving your car running with a child or pet in the car is not only dangerous, but it is also illegal.
“Your car could get stolen with your child or pet in the backseat,” Staly said. “And you don’t want that to happen.”
Beyond the emotional repercussions of what one may go through if something happens to their child or pet in a hot car, there are criminal charges.
Staly said people could face charges of cruelty to animals for leaving their pets in their car and, for doing the same to children, they could face child abuse felonies or manslaughter.
DCF and FCSO encourages drivers to put reminders on their phones or leave their phone or something else in the backseat that would prompt the driver to check the backseat before going into a store, in case of forgetfulness. In addition, Staly said the FCSO main office and substation will have reminders to hang on rearview mirrors and magnets from DCF available for locals to pick up.
Medlock wanted to remind the public that this applies to senior citizens, as well.
“If it has a heartbeat, don’t leave it in a car,” Staly said.
For more information, visit kidsandcars.org.