ORLANDO, Fla. – With summer in full swing, law enforcement and children's safety advocates are teaming up to demonstrate the dangers of leaving children and pets inside hot vehicles.
At a press conference Monday, the Florida Department of Children and Families along with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Highway Patrol and Orange County Fire Rescue reminded parents to "Look before you lock."
"Don't let your distraction hurt our most precious cargo, which is our children," FHP Capt. Chris Sorvillo said.
On average, nearly 40 children in the U.S. die of hyperthermia each year from being left in a hot vehicle, according to the Children's Safety Village of Central Florida.
During the summer months, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes, which is a time span that can be fatal for children.
"If we need to access that vehicle, trust me, we will get in the vehicle. We will render aid," Major Jeff Stonebreaker said.
On Monday, first responders demonstrated a rescue by breaking the window of a vehicle that had a simulated infant in the back seat.
Deputies said if the scenario had been real, the outcome would have likely been tragic.
"They're struggling to cool themselves down because the temperature inside the car is going up. They might as well be wrapped up, it's a double whammy," Stonebreaker said.
Law enforcement suggested parents or caretakers leave important items, like a cellphone or purse in the back seat as a reminder when a child is inside.
"There's different types of tools and techniques you can use, but nothing beats double checking a car," Sorvillo said.
In Florida, it is a criminal offense to leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
Anyone who sees a child left alone inside a vehicle is urged to call 911 immediately.