After child's death in hot car, Carroll officials offer advice on prevention

After the death of a 2-year-old girl who was left alone in a car in Baltimore, Carroll officials are reiterating the dangers of leaving children or pets alone in vehicles in the summer heat.

"The death of this child in Baltimore is extremely unfortunate, as is any child death," said Dr. Henry Taylor, acting health officer at the Carroll County Health Department. "We are fortunate that it hasn't happened in Carroll County, but we need to focus on what we can actually do about it … sharing [helpful information] and extending the message to include caring for pets."


People should know that car interiors heat very quickly in the sun, even with the windows cracked, according to Taylor, and that children overheat more quickly than adults. Heat stroke can occur in a matter of minutes in what is essentially a solar oven.

That is also true of pets, according to Charles Brown, executive director of the humane society of Carroll County.

"On a 90-degree day, a parked car can get up to 160 degrees inside of 10 minutes; you can see the situation gets dire pretty quick," he said. "We run probably three to five calls a week about dogs in cars in the summertime."

Because the temperature inside a car can increase exponentially, Brown said there is no safe amount of time to leave an animal — or a child — in a car alone, and even leaving a car running with the air conditioning on is no guarantee of safety.

"I used to live in the [Florida] Keys and we had a kid die in a car and the parents had left the car running with the air conditioning going, thinking that was the right thing to do," Brown said. "The car stalled out and it became unbelievably hot."

Taylor, Brown and other advocates all recommend calling police or animal control officers immediately upon noticing a child or animal who is left alone in a vehicle. Animal control officers can force their way into a vehicle to rescue an animal, according to Brown, and fines will apply to the owner.

Leaving a child younger than 8 alone in a locked vehicle is a criminal misdemeanor in Maryland, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, but other criminal charges can be applied.

According to The Baltimore Sun, 2-year-old Leasia Carter was found unconscious and suffering from second degree burns on Monday after being left alone in a car by her father, Wilbert Leon Carter, who told police he had been drinking on Sunday and could not remember where he parked the car when we woke up. He has been charged with murder and child abuse.

Leasia Carter's was the eighth such death in the U.S. thus far in 2015, and the 645th death of child left in a car in the U.S. since 1998, according to, which tracks such statistics. The majority of those deaths, 336, were due to a caregiver having "forgotten" about the child.

Advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that parents and guardians consider it unsafe to leave a child alone in a car, even for a moment, and to place something like a cellphone or a bag in the back seat when transporting a child to help remember they are there. They also recommend teaching children not to play in cars and to keep them locked when not in use.


More information


Safe Kids Worldwide's recommendations for keeping children safe from heatstroke in vehicles are available at

More general information on staying safe in extreme heat can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

The Humane Society of Carroll County and animal control can be reached at 410-848-4810.