Editorial: Don't leave children unattended
Never leave a child unattended at the pool, or at the beach, or anywhere near water. . . . Never leave a child unattended at home around medicines or cleaning fluids. . . . Never leave a child unattended at the mall or the grocery store, or a public restroom. . . . Never leave a child unattended in a car, in a store, at the playground or park.
Those are the warnings -- the pleas -- of the "Never Leave a Child Unattended" campaign on the Treasure Coast.
The campaign was initiated in 1993 by public relations executive Amy Kryak and her husband, Don Kryak, a Port St. Lucie police officer, following a series of child drownings and near drownings in Port St. Lucie that summer in which most of the victims had been left alone.
The campaign began in Port St. Lucie, spread throughout St. Lucie County and now covers the Treasure Coast. According to Amy Kryak, the goal is to take the campaign national in the hopes that many more children's lives can be potentially saved.
The biggest threat for child deaths from drownings and from heat strokes from being left unattended in cars comes during the summer months.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for young children in Florida.
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on drownings and near-drownings of children under age 5 in Florida, Arizona and California, most of the children who drowned were being supervised by one or both parents, 46 percent of the victims were last seen in the house, 65 percent of the victims drowned in the family pool and 33 percent drowned in the pool of a friend or relative and 77 percent of the victims were missing from sight for five minutes or less.
Nationwide, each year, more than 300 children under the age of 5 drown in residential swimming pools. From 1992 through 1997, 420 children age 4 or younger died in drowning accidents in Florida.
According to Kids 'N Cars, a project of the Trauma Foundation at San Francisco General Hospital, temperatures inside a vehicle rapidly rise when the outside temperature reaches 80 degrees. When it reaches 90 degrees, even with windows cracked, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 125 degrees in 20 minutes and 140 degrees in 40 minutes.
Leaving a child under 6 years old unattended in a car for more than 15 minutes is illegal in Florida, regardless of the temperature. A child may not be left in a car unattended for any period of time if the motor is running or the child's health is in danger.
Help avoid tragedies on the Treasure Coast this summer. Don't leave the children unattended. Ever.