In 2021, Florida passed Senate Bill 252, also known as the Child Safety Alarm Act. Signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the bill is a response to several high-profile tragedies involving children locked in cars.
What Is the Child Safety Alarm Act?
The act requires that any vehicle used by a childcare facility to transport children have an alarm system that reminds the driver to inspect the car before leaving the area. The bill was prompted by several reported deaths of small children who were left in their cars on hot weather days. In fact, heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, and it results in hundreds of deaths each year.
The bill requires these facilities to use reliable alarm systems from approved manufacturers. It also requires the Florida Department of Children and Families (FDCF) to maintain a list of these manufacturers.
A Preventable Tragedy
In 2019, Vanessa Goolsby’s daughter Micayle died when the baby girl was left in a hot car for eight hours. The girl’s father was supposed to drop her off, but this was not part of his routine and he forgot Micayle was there until it was too late. Micayle was the third child to die in a hot car in Florida that year.
The death of a child in a hot car is a preventable tragedy, but it happens too often. The nonprofit organization Kids and Cars documents these deaths, and their findings are eye-opening.
- More than 20 children die every year after being left in a hot car.
- An average of 39 deaths occur every year, which is equivalent to one every nine days.
- 87% of children in these cases are under three.
- 54% involve children under a year old.
Why Cars and Kids Don’t Mix on Hot Days
Heatstroke is particularly dangerous for children. Their bodies heat up more quickly than the bodies of adults.
Children often fall asleep in cars, and their silence means parents or van drivers can simply forget they are in the back seat. Hot cars are a year-round danger in Florida, but these deaths happen in every state.
Why Do Kids Get Left Behind?
Most parents don’t believe it’s possible to forget their kids are in the car, but the facts show that it happens even to diligent, caring parents. In over half the cases, the parent didn’t intentionally leave their child behind.
Only 15% of cases involved parents intentionally leaving their children in a hot car. And about 25% of deaths happened when the child entered the car without their parents’ knowledge.
The main reasons children are forgotten include:
- Change in the routine of pickups and drop-offs
- Stress and fatigue
- Work and personal distractions
Who Are the Approved Alarm Manufacturers?
The following companies meet the government’s minimum requirements for alarm systems. These are currently approved for installation in vehicles:
- Doran Manufacturing
- Ride N Remind
- ATWEC Technologies
- Child Check-Mate System
- Central States Bus Sales
- KoPilot Childcare
Manufacturers who want to be on the list can apply through the Florida Department of Children and Families through FDCF’s website. They can also download the state’s requirements for inclusion.
Car Alarms Offer Peace of Mind
Specialty car alarms offer an extra level of protection to parents and daycare vehicle drivers. They alert the driver to the presence of someone in the back seat and are also useful for protecting pets and valuable belongings. With the passage of the Childcare Safety Alarm Act, parents can be sure their children get the extra protection they need.