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Go ahead, break and enter.

This is the time of year when many of us start dreaming of the hot, sunny summer just around the corner. But that heat comes with a few risks. One is what can happen when cars are locked up and left in the sun. Even when it's only 75 degrees outside, within 20 minutes, the temperature inside a car can be above 100 degrees.


Nearly 40 children die every year from heat stroke after being left in hot cars. Last year, as of late September, that number was at 23, according to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit child safety organization. Animals are also at risk; hundreds die each year when they are left too long in closed-up cars, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. There are 19 states with laws specifically making it illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle and to protect animals left in vehicles.

Legislatures in Delaware, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington passed bills last year addressing the dangers of leaving children and animals unattended in hot cars. California, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia have legislation pending this year. Florida has four pieces of legislation pending on the topic, with two in the House and two in the Senate.

The new laws in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia provide immunity from civil liability when an individual breaks into a car to rescue a child or animal. The legislation in Delaware and Washington requires a first responder or animal control officer to be the one to actually enter the car.

Thirty-four states have "good Samaritan" laws that may waive liability for people rescuing unattended children left in vehicles.

Washington's new law also made it a civil infraction, subject to a fine, to leave an animal unattended in a car if leaving it could cause harm or death to the animal. Legislation introduced this year in Virginia relates specifically to rescuing companion animals left unattended in vehicles.

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Title Annotation:TRENDS
Author:Essex, Amanda
Publication:State Legislatures
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2016
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