In Florida and other States, children continue to suffer personal injuries and even death when left unattended in a hot car, day care van, or school bus. These tragedies are wholly preventable with proper supervision and policies in place to make sure that every child is accounted for and, yes, that no child is ever left behind. Pursuant to the Florida Administrative Code, Chapter 65 C, Section 22.001 (6) F – Transporation, a day care center has the duty to maintain proper staff to child ratios when transporting children. In other words, there needs to be sufficient staff in place for the number of children being transported. Furthermore, a log is required to be maintained that should include the child’s name, date, time of departure and time of arrival, signature of driver and signature of staff member to verify the driver’s log and, most importantly, to verify that all children have left the vehicle. In addition to documenting the driver’s log, the driver has a duty to conduct a physical inspection and visual sweep of the vehicle to make sure that all children are accounted for. Furthermore, upon arrival, a second staff member is required to conduct a physical inspection and visual sweep of the vehicle to make sure that all children are accounted for.
The aforementioned procedure (if properly followed) can and will save lives. Unfortunately, too many children have lost their lives due to being left unattended and alone in a hot day care vehicle, school bus, or vehicle. The plight of Haley Brockington recently made headlines. Haile was left in a day care van for up to 6 hours. While autopsy results are pending, it appears that Haley died as a result of hyperthermia / heart exhaustion and the related complications. A small child simply cannot survive in a parked car in this Florida summer heat with no air conditioning for an extended period of time. See also Haley Brockington’s Mother and Family React to Death of Child See also Investigators to review findings of investigation into tot’s death at a Delray Beach day-care center.
While not all child care providers may be subject to this Florida Administrative Code provision, I would recommend that all child care providers including schools, all day care centers, summer camps, church groups, and, yes, even parents, grandparents, and family friends follow this procedure. While a parent or grandparent is unlikely to use a driver’s log, it may be helpful to have a checklist in the car to make sure that all children are out of the car. Some use a stuffed animal as a reminder. Others leave a purse or another item in the backseat as a reminder to remove the purse or item and, more importantly, the children from the vehicle upon arrival at the trip destination. While not all automobile accidents or other unexpected tragedies can be avoided, the death or injury of a child mistakenly or negligently left in a vehicle can absolutely be avoided.