Break It Or Not?


What if you are going shopping, walking through the parking lot and you see a child in a car unattended?  It’s hot outside, the car is parked in the sun, no windows down. Do you call the police or break the window? Do you walk by and pretend you didn’t see anything?  Do you worry what your legal rights are if you break the window?

These are questions we may all ask if we are faced with that situation.  Every year we hear tragic stories of young lives lost.  Between 1998 and 2012 529 children died of heat stroke in the United States.  

Laws vary by state, but in most instances are geared towards kids six year old and younger.  Kentucky’s law protects kids eight and younger, while Tennessee’s makes it a crime after 5 minutes.  

If a child is in danger, based on the good samaritan laws most states have, you have the legal right to use the means necessary.  If possible wait for police to arrive and let them handle getting the child out of the vehicle and finding the parents or guardian.  

We all would probably not hesitate to break a window to save a child who’s in danger without regards to the possible legal issues.  What if it were a dog in the same situation?  Are our legal rights the same if we break a window to save a dog?

This situation has happened often enough that 14 states and many state jurisdictions have imposed laws against leaving pets unattended in running or parked vehicles.

Again police recommend you call 911 if you witnesses a child or pet left unattended in a car and is in danger. When pets are involved people have a different view.  Some may feel that no pet is safe in a vehicle running or parked and will use any means necessary to remove the pet.  This can be a very volatile situation if the owner of the vehicle returns to find their window broken.  

In a 14 year span, 529 children died and that number goes up every year.  This can be prevented and we all have a role in reducing those number.  If you have a child under 8 NEVER leave them in a vehicle unattended, not for one minute, not ever!  We all get distracted and what we think will only take a minute or two can easily turn into twenty or thirty.  Give yourself a reminder, put your phone or purse in front of the carseat on the floor so you have to look in that area of the car. If you see a child or pet in danger call 911 immediately!  

We at ICC Collision Centers care about the children in our community and yours. Please be aware of any child or pet left in an unattended vehicle.  Have a safe and fun summer!