xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Baltimore officials express concern for children, seniors in summer heat

City of Baltimore Health Department Commissioner Leana S. Wen.
City of Baltimore Health Department Commissioner Leana S. Wen. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

Leasia Carter, the 2-year-old girl who died after being left in an unattended car for nearly a day last week, isn't alone.

The Baltimore toddler was one of about 650 U.S. children since 1998 to die after being left in a vehicle during hot weather, according to the Baltimore City Health Department.

Advertisement

On Tuesday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other city officials called attention to segments of the population considered to be more in danger during summer months: seniors and youngsters.

Officials highlighted the importance of hydration and also noted safety concerns with fireworks and swimming pools.

Advertisement
Advertisement

"We want everyone to be prepared for the heat, but we especially want to reach out to our seniors and our young people and other vulnerable populations who are at the most risk during these hot days," Rawlings-Blake said.

The mayor said the city's fire and police departments have a responsibility to help citizens stay cool and will make sure that residents are prepared when there is a code red alert — when the heat index is forecast to reach over 105 degrees.

Last week officers found Leasia Carter unresponsive in the back of a car in Northeast Baltimore. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Police said she had been left in the car for 16 hours on a day when temperatures reached 91 degrees. Her father, Wilbert Leon Carter, was charged with murder.

Eight children nationwide have died this year, and 31 last year, from heatstroke after being left in cars, city health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said. More than half of those victims were under age 2, according to Wen, who called such incidents "preventable." She said parents must never leave children alone in a car.

Advertisement

"Even if it's just in the mid-70s outside, temperatures of vehicles can reach life-threatening levels very quickly," Dr. Wen said. "A child's body warms up three to five times faster than an adult's body."

Wen said parents should keep a stuffed animal in the front seat as a reminder to "look before you leave" the car.

"It can happen to anyone. It can happen to the most responsible parent just on a bad day," said Karen Hardingham, Safe Kids Baltimore Coordinator at the University of Maryland Children's Hospital.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said families must prioritize their children's safety.

"Our children cannot and should not be the victims of our own distractions," Batts said.

Chief Mark Fletcher of the Baltimore City Fire department also stressed the importance of pool safety. He said 200 children die annually in home pool related accidents. He urged parents to establish "good behavior" around the pool and to learn CPR.

mcollins@baltsun.com

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement