Main Content

news

Ocala Installs Florida’s First Safe Haven Baby Box

By OCALA FIRE RESCUE, Correspondent | December 14, 2020 | FLORIDA

Story No. 121420101

Ocala, FL - Dec. 11, 2020 – The City of Ocala has installed the first Safe Haven Baby Box in Florida at the MLK First Responder Campus (505 NW MLK Jr. Avenue, Ocala).

The Safe Haven Baby Box will be available to the public starting on Tuesday, December 15th after the Safe Haven Baby Box Unveiling Event at 4:00 P.M. The Safe Haven Baby Box is positioned on the southwest corner of the fire administration lobby tower. This is the first Safe Haven Baby Box available in Florida, and the 53rd in the nation.

The Safe Haven Law allows people to surrender their unharmed newborn without fear of criminal prosecution. The Safe Haven Baby Box provides a last resort option to surrender an infant, eliminating the face-to-face interaction with emergency medical personnel and ensuring a safe surrender of a newborn infant. Florida ranks fourth in the nation for the number of infant abandonments in the past four years with more than 20 reported.

Safe Haven Baby Box Inc. is a non-profit founded by firefighter and paramedic Monica Kelsey. Kelsey was abandoned as an infant and is committed to installing more Safe Haven Baby Boxes in communities across Florida.

“We know that education and awareness around the Safe Haven Laws and Safe Haven Baby Boxes save lives. Women in crisis need more options, in more locations throughout the state of Florida. This Safe Haven Baby Box will serve as a new resource available to end infant abandonment in Florida,” says Monica Kelsey.

The Safe Haven Baby Box organization also staffs a 24-hour hotline (1-866-99BABY1) to give women the opportunity to talk to a trained professional as they consider safely surrendering their baby. The hotline has received over 5,000 calls from all states in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

“As an organization, we are proud to find innovative ways to serve our community,” said Ocala Fire Rescue Fire Chief Shane Alexander. “The Safe Haven Baby Box will enhance our ability to aid mothers in crisis by offering secure and anonymous means to surrender a newborn child safely.”

There are currently more than 50 other fire stations and hospitals in Indiana, Ohio, and Arkansas equipped with Safe Haven Baby Boxes. Ten infants have been placed in Safe Haven Baby Boxes, with six taking place in 2020. Nationwide, 86 parents have safely surrendered their infants with the help of the Safe Haven Baby Boxes program.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes are equipped with alarm systems to notify 9-1-1 immediately. Safe Haven Baby Boxes also have heating and cooling features and lock as soon as the baby is placed inside. It costs roughly $15K to install a Safe Haven Baby Box.

For more information about Safe Haven Baby Boxes, please visit www.shbb.org or send questions by email to shbb@safehavenbabyboxes.com.

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.