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Warning To Parents: Do Not Leave Children Alone In Hot Car

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- With one heat-related death in the city already this summer, city officials are issuing an important warning to parents.

Derek Valcourt explains they're trying to prevent children from being left alone in a hot car.

Two-year-old Leasia Carter was the city's first heat-related death of 2015.

Police say she'd been left inside a scalding hot car for nearly 16 hours by her father, 31-year-old Wilbert Leon Carter, who is now charged with murder.

Conditions were so hot on the day she died, doctors say the little girl had second-degree burns.

She's the eighth child in the U.S. to die in a hot car so far this year. In all, 656 kids have died that way since 1998.

"This is a preventable tragedy, and it should never occur again," said City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

City officials gathered for a press conference ahead of the Fourth of July weekend to highlight the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car.

They even rigged a car out front of the health department with thermometers to show that while the temperature Tuesday morning was just 79 degrees, inside the car, it was already a toasty 103.

"A child's body warms up three to five times faster than an adult's body does, and children just don't have the same protection that adults have yet," said Wen.

Officials warn--never leave a child unattended in a car, even with a window cracked.

And since about half of the parents of kids left in cars say they forgot about their child, experts suggest putting a stuffed animal in front of the driver to serve as a reminder for them to check the backseat before leaving.

"It can happen to anyone. It can happen to the most responsible parent. Just one bad day," said Karen Hardingham, Safe Kids Baltimore.

Officials are asking everyone to do their part and be on the lookout. Call 911 if you see children left in parked cars.

In Maryland alone, 12 children have died from heatstroke after being left unattended in a car since 1998.

For more info on Safe Kids Baltimore, CLICK HERE.

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