‘100% preventable’: advocates push for safety against hot car deaths as temperatures rise

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — It’s a tragic distinction: Florida has the second highest number in the country of hot car deaths.

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With temperatures on the rise, safety advocates are again sending a strong and urgent message about the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car.

Jace Wallace was 21 months old when a caregiver left him in a hot car for seven hours before his lifeless body was found, still strapped in his car seat.

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“I didn’t lose anything I can replace,” said his mother, Makia Wallace. “All I have now is memories.”

More than a year later, Wallace, now the founder of the nonprofit Love Like Jace, joined the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and other advocates to remind people how, since 2017, heatstroke tragedies have claimed the lives of four Orange County children, all under 4 years old.

“These deaths are 100% preventable,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.

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The temperature outside of an SUV on an 85-degree day results in about 140 degrees on the inside, which means certain death for a child whose body heats up three to five times faster than an adult.

In 2021, four years after 3-year-old Myles Hill died in a day care van in Orlando, Florida passed a law requiring all children vehicles to install safety alarms to force staff to check the back seats.

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Advocates are still pushing for a more comprehensive standard in all new vehicles.

In the meantime, advocates are asking parents and guardians to park and look before locking, which can be lifesavers for children in cars.


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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.