73ºF

Volunteers patrol parking lots for kids, disabled, pets left in cars

Miami man started safety group after seeing news about child dying in hot car

HIALEAH, Fla. – In parking lots of major stores around Miami-Dade County, a group of volunteers is patrolling around, looking for children, pets, or anyone else left in vehicles.

A message bellows from cars marked Safety Patrol: "Attention, attention please be advised. If you have any little children, pets of any kind, or disabled passengers in your vehicle, do not leave them unattended." The message is also broadcast in Spanish. 

The president of the safety patrol, Reinaldo Blanco, said he started the group after seeing a story on the news about a child dying in a hot car. 

One of the volunteers, Oswaldo Acosta, translated Blanco's interview for Local 10.

"The idea come to him that he can minimize or eliminate the situation with the kids," the volunteer said.

So now, several times a month, Blanco and members of his group drive and walk around parking lots, looking for anything that might catch their eye.

 
"If we see something suspicious, we get out and check it,  Acosta said.
 
They said if they do spot something, they call 911 and follow the advice of the emergency operator.

So far, in a few months, they've already found one pet locked in a car on a sweltering hot day.

Fortunately, the owner came back before they had to do anything drastic, but, they said, they still used it as a teaching moment.

"(Blanco) explained to the owner of the car that she can't leave the pet inside the car; not for two minutes, not for five minutes, not for any time," said Acosta.
 
The group usually shows up with about 15 to 20 volunteers at a time, patrolling parking lots just like one Local 10 patrolled along with them in Hialeah. Their goal is to eliminate hot car deaths in Miami-
Dade County completely. They are also always looking for more volunteers.
 


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