LAUDERHILL — On April 4 at 2 p.m., officials in Broward County will help launch a “Look before You Lock” campaign aimed at ensuring that no children die or are injured as a result of being left in hot vehicles.
Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler, Children’s Services Council President/CEO Cindy Arenberg Seltzer and Early Learning Coalition Board Chair Jeffrey Dwyer are helping with the launch at Learning in Motion, a childcare facility located at 10945 Stirling Rd., Cooper City.
It comes as Broward County is set to enact a recently passed childcare ordinance requiring all childcare centers and family childcare homes to install safety alarms in vehicles carrying six or more passengers. The reason? To prevent a tragic death should a child be left alone and forgotten in a vehicle. The ordinance is effective as of July 1, 2013.
Ideally, drivers are looking from seat to seat to check that all children are out of the vehicle as they walk to the back to shut off the alarm, said Wexler, who pushed for the county law. “You can’t shut the alarm off unless you do it manually.”
Heatstroke in vehicles is the leading cause of all non-crash-related fatalities involving children 14 years-old and younger, officials say, and children four and under are especially vulnerable because their bodies overheat more quickly.
Florida ranks fourth in the U.S. in the number of hyperthermia deaths of children in vehicles — not surprisingly, officials say, as even with a window rolled down a few inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s, as is often the case in Florida, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in as little as 10 minutes.
On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year in the U.S. from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside motor vehicles. Even the best of parents or childcare providers can overlook a sleeping child in a car, and the end result can be injury or even death. The most recent case in Broward involved a 4-year-old, who died when he was left in a vehicle owned by a family childcare home provider.
“These deaths and injuries are totally preventable,” said Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, president/CEO of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. “If adding a layer of protection by enacting this ordinance and creating the “Look before You Lock” public awareness campaign engaging the entire community saves even one child’s life, it will be well worth the effort.”
To help child care providers defray some of the costs of installing the alarms, Broward County Children’s Services Administration, the Children’s Services Council, and the Early Learning Coalition have set aside a One-Time Only Reimbursement fund to help qualified childcare providers offset the cost of installations. The purchase and installation of the alarm must occur between the dates of Dec. 11, 2012 and June 30, 2013.
For more information on the Vehicle Alarm Ordinance and on the “Look before You Lock” campaign call 2-1-1 or visit cscbroward.org