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ASO reminds people to check their backseat after mother leaves baby in her car during a shopping trip

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Following an incident that happened in Celebration Pointe on Sunday July 19, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ASO) is warning parents and pet owners of the dangers of a hot vehicle in the summer.

Sarah Brown was taken into custody and charged with child neglect after her infant was found in the backseat of her car for more than 30 minutes. Bystanders pried a window open to retrieve the child before ASO arrived to the scene.

Brown claimed she forgot her child was in the backseat. ‘Forgetfulness’ makes up over half of pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths since 1998 according to NoHeatStroke.org.

Kaley Behl, a spokesperson for ASO, said they do their best to send out monthly public service announcements during the summer months for those caring for children or pets, but some guardians need more than a reminder.

Related Story: A Gainesville woman is in jail after leaving her infant in a hot car

“Maybe it’s putting something important in your back seat, like your purse. Something so that you’re always doing that double check and you make sure that you don’t have a child or a pet left in the backseat and something very unfortunate or tragic happens,” Behl said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state of Florida is second in the nation for pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths.

Temperatures inside a vehicle can raise 20 degrees in 10 minutes, and dark leather seats can reach over 200 degrees in direct sunlight. Cracking a window only affects the temperature by three degrees according to NoHeatStroke.org.

Fully grown adults deal with heatstroke differently than young children, and especially pets. Behl said smaller bodies heat up faster and have a hard time cooling off efficiently.

“Children can’t regulate body temperature as effectively as adults. To give you some perspective, a dog wearing a fur coat and not being able to sweat can die within a period of six minutes,” Behl explained.

When in doubt, double check the backseat.

If bystanders find a child or pet suffering in a trapped car, a law passed in 2016 allows those individuals to forcefully enter a vehicle to retrieve them.

Behl said to call 911 immediately if an animal or person is trapped inside a hot car.

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