Car heat creates safety hazard for people, children, animals

Updated: Jun. 9, 2017 at 7:08 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - As summer gets closer, young children and pets are susceptible to being left inside hot cars.

If one happens to see a child or a pet that is left inside a hot car, and they appear to be in distress, and needing out soon, you can break the window to get that child or pet, without permission.

"The first thing that I would ask a person to do, is to think about the whole situation, the totality of the circumstances," Donovan Staggs, Lubbock Police Officer, said. "How hot it is outside has something to do with it, and look inside the vehicle, see if the child's distressed or in pain and basically determine what your course of action should be."

If you have to break the window, Staggs said you won't face criminal charges.

"In our eyes, if you were able to see a child in distress and need of help inside the vehicle, obviously in pain and we need to get the child out or in that case, you need to get the child out, breaking a window is obviously very low importance to the life of the child," Staggs said.

Worst case scenario, you could be faced with a civil liability.

House Bill 401 aims to give civil liability immunity to anyone who has to use force to get a child out of the car. The bill was proposed in 216, but left standing in the committee in 2017.

For parents that leave their children unattended in a hot car, they could face certain charges.

"If you leave a child in a car for more than five minutes and he's under seven years-old, and he's either alone or unattended with a child under 14, that's a class C misdemeanor, so you're subject to a ticket," Staggs said. "However, if the officer feels that you left the child in there and endangered their well-being to where it could cause serious bodily injury or injury to that child, whether it be caused by the heat, or any other circumstances caused by the vehicle that could put that child in danger, you could be arrested for that. It's a class A misdemeanor."

As for pets being left unattended in a hot car, LPD says the same rules apply when it comes to rescuing that animal from inside the car.

The owner of that pet could face criminal charges just as they would with a child.

LPD wants to remind everyone to be mindful of where their kids are at all times.

"It's super important to remember where your children are at and if you have to run inside the store, make sure that they've got someone in the vehicle that's over 14 years old that can care for them in case something happened."

For more information on what to do in these situations, you can visit

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