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1st newborn surrendered to Florida Safe Haven Baby Box

(Photo Provided/CNN)

OCALA, Florida (WKMG) — A newborn was surrendered to Florida’s first and only Safe Haven Baby Box, marking the first time it has been used.

The baby box is located at Ocala’s Fire Rescue headquarters. Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder and CEO Monica Kelsey, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn and Ocala Fire Chief Clint Welborn will be discussing the surrendered baby during a news conference Thursday morning.

Ocala’s location is the only one in Florida, and it is one of 134 boxes in the U.S. When it was installed in December 2020, it marked the first Safe Haven Baby Box in Florida.

Kelsey came up with the idea for Safe Haven Baby Boxes because officials were still finding dead, abandoned babies despite states having a Safe Haven law, allowing mothers to surrender newborns to hospitals and fire stations.

“My biological father is a rapist and I was abandoned at birth and my life still has value. I wish that today, my birth mom would have had those resources all those years ago,” Kelsey said.

The boxes have a heater, cooling unit and are alarm activated, according to Kelsey. The silent alarm will alert firefighters there is a baby in the box 60 seconds after the newborn is placed in it.

“Sixty seconds is enough time for mom to get away,” Kelsey said.

Once the baby is inside, the outer door locks and only safety or medical personnel can access it.

The Safe Haven Baby Box costs $10,000 and is leased for $200 a month.