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leaving kids in car

Is It Legal to Break a Window to Save a Child or Pet from a Hot Car

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Summer is in full swing. Not only does this mean that the kids are out of school for the season, but that temperatures are at their peak. Summer holds a number of problems for parents. Not only do they have to try to figure out what to do with their children while still managing their normal work schedule, they also have to make sure their kids keep cool.

Nobody likes being in the heat for prolonged periods, and young children are especially susceptible to high temperatures. Younger kids don’t know how to take care of themselves and have to rely on their parent’s judgement. This means that a parent should never leave their child unattended in a hot situation.

One particular situation that might seem obvious to some, but is still shocking to others, is leaving a child alone in a car on a hot day. Some parents still think that this is an acceptable thing to do, but that is not the case. Something as simple as this can turn dangerous, or even deadly, in minutes.

Cars Equal Ovens

While driving a vehicle on a summer day, people often have the air conditioner cranked to max. This fills the cars with cool, comfortable air while it is being driven. However, the minute the car is shut off, this cool air disappears. Some parents believe that this cool air will last for five minutes while they are in the store. Their kid should be fine in the car alone for just a few minutes, right? Wrong.

Cars are like giant, solar powered ovens. Many people got the unpleasant experience of going down a metal slide on a hot day as a kid. Just touching metal that has been in the sun for a little bit is unpleasant, try being inside of it. On top of that, the glass windows of cars act like magnifying glass and amplify the Sun’s rays. This, combined with the lack of air movement inside the vehicle creates an oven that even cracking the windows or parking in the shade can’t fix.

Cracking the windows just a little bit does not allow enough air movement to cool the car down. Anyone who has ever been stranded on the side of a desert road, will attest to the fact that even having the door fully open doesn’t allow enough air movement inside the vehicle. Parking in the shade may slow the process slightly, but the hot air surrounding the vehicle will still increase the interior temperature of the vehicle.

Most experts agree that once the outside temperatures reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it is too hot to leave anyone in a vehicle. At this temperature, the inside of a car can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. If the outside temperature is 80 degrees, then the inside temps can reach 100 in just 10 minutes.

Basically, don’t leave anyone, child or pets, unattended inside a vehicle in weather that is warmer than 70 degrees.

What to Do If You See This

Unfortunately, people still have a tendency to leave children, and pets, inside their vehicles while they make a “quick” trip into the store. An estimated 22 kids have died in 2018 after suffering from heatstroke caused by being left alone in a car. This causes many people to want to help out if they see a child, or even a pet, alone in vehicle on a hot day. However, this is a bit tricky in California.

Last year, in 2017, the state of California passed a law allows people to break into vehicles in order to save the life of an animal trapped inside. AB 797 amended California Civil Code and Penal Code to ensure that a person who damages and/or trespasses within a vehicle while not face any criminal charges if the damage and trespass occurred while rescuing an animal from the vehicle. The protections only occur if the breaking into the vehicle was a last resort and that other methods were not tried first. This means that before anyone springs into action, they should first call 911. The operator can send help and may be able to guide the person through some other ways of getting into the without causing large amounts of damage.

It is important to note that the law specifically states this only happens when the person is rescuing an animal, not a child. The law makes no mention of protection if the actions are done to save a child’s life. This means that legally, you cannot break into a car to save a child inside who is suffering from heat stroke. If you see a child alone in a vehicle on a hot day, alert the proper authorities immediately, and stay close to the vehicle to keep an eye on the situation.

Summer Heat Is Here to Stay

As the summer progresses with its intense heat, parents need to be aware that they should never leave their child, or pet, inside a vehicle on a hot day. Several kids have already died this year to heatstroke cause by doing this, which is something no parent wants to face. If the kids can’t be left at home, then they need to go into the store with their parent. Simple as that.

If a person comes across a vehicle in a parking lot with a pet locked inside on a hot day, he can break into the vehicle to rescue the animal. Provided he has tried every other option and has contacted the local authorities already. When it comes to finding a child in the same situation, legally, the person cannot break into the car. He should contact emergencies services and proceed from there. Once he has done that, his next move is up to him.

How Hot Is Too Hot?

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With the summer heat in full swing once again, it is important for everyone to do their best to stay cool this season. While looking out for ourselves in this sort of weather is one thing, we can’t forget about the lives that are in our care. Children and pets cannot take care of themselves the way adults can.

Young children can’t be expected to take care of themselves. They don’t know the warning signs of when a place is too hot, nor do they have the ability to deal with the heat. Due to these facts, a child should never be left unattended in a car when temperatures approach 70 degrees. If they are left alone in a car in warm conditions, they could face serious bodily harm or worse.

Even at a comfortable temperature like 75 degrees, the inside of a car can become unbearable. The interior of a car can drastically increase in temperature when exposed to the harsh summer sun. The insides can reach up to 118 degrees at this low of a temperature, and can reach up to 145 degrees if the outside is at 94 degrees.

Even if you were just planning on running into the store for just a moment, the interior of the car will begin to bake the moment you shut off the air conditioning. Leaving the windows open just a crack is not enough to cool off the car. The metal body of the vehicle absorbs heat while the glass windows magnify it. All of that warmth gets trapped inside the vehicle making it unsafe for anyone, child or pet, to be stuck inside.

At this time of the year, it is best to leave pets at home where the climate is more controlled, and to bring kids into the store with you. While this may be inconvenient, this can help save their lives.

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Never Leave Someone Unattended in a Hot Car

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Summer is officially here now, which means everyone will be doing their best to stay out of the heat. During this time of the year, it is extra important to remember that no child or pet should be left in a car under any circumstances. Leaving someone in a car on a warm day can put them in great danger.


If it is extremely hot outside, it will be worse inside a locked car. Cars heat up rapidly in the summer heat. Even if it is only 85 degrees outside, the interior of a car can heat up to 100 in less than 10 minutes. This can get even worse if the outside temperature is over 100 degrees. At higher temps, the inside of the car can reach 140 degrees in as little as 15 minutes.


This is why children and animals should not be left in a parked car during the summer months. They can easily suffer heatstroke and could possibly die because of it. That is something no one wants to face just because they had to run into the store for a minute.

It is also important to remember that it is illegal in California to leave a child or pet unattended in a car when it endangers the child or animal. In some instances, it is perfectly legal for a bystander to do what is necessary to get the child or pet out of the vehicle to safety.

This summer, remember to consider your child or pet when you need to run errands. You should take your kid with you into the store, even if it is only for a few minutes, and maybe it is best for you to leave your pet at home. This way, nobody is left in an inhospitable environment and everybody stays happy and safe.

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Save a Dog from a Hot Vehicle

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In California, it is legal to break into a stranger’s car in order to save a dog that is trapped and suffering, but it is still illegal to do so to save a child. Last year, California implemented a law that protects the individual from civil damages if they save a dog. However, California has yet to figure out and implement laws that would protect the individual if they did this to save a child.


This does not mean that a person can break into a car to save a dog anytime they want. It is only forgiving under certain conditions, and the individual is only protected if they comply with certain rules.


On any given day, the temperature inside a vehicle is higher than the temperature outside. Now, think about conditions if the outside temperature was 85 degrees on a summer day. If a dog is locked inside the vehicle, then a person can consider breaking in to save the dog if it is suffering. The person has to be sure that there is no other way to get the dog out and the owner is nowhere to be seen. In other words, this Good Samaritan has to be sure that they have exhausted all other methods to save the dog.

If they break into the car to save the dog, they will need to alert the cops of the incident and stay at the scene until the cops arrive so they can provide their statement. If the good samaritan does all of this, they will be protected from charges. If they neglect even one thing, especially staying after breaking into the vehicle, they may be charged.

If you are the owner and have a dog or a young child with you on a hot day, and you need to park your car to run a quick errand, it is best to bring your child with you. If the store is pet-friendly, bring the pup, or at least leash him or her outside in the shade. It is illegal to leave a child who is under the age of 7 unattended in a vehicle unless they are being supervised by another who is at least 12 years old. Hot vehicles become deadly weapons very fast, so it is a very risky to leave a pet or young child in the vehicle without proper safety measures.

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Can You Leave Your Child Unattended in the Car?

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We made it through our first big heat wave, so you can rejoice about that. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning and you should brace yourself. You can count on there being more scorching days this summer. Remember to stay extra hydrated by drinking plenty of water and to put on sunblock when you spend any time outside. When you are driving someone in your car, especially your own young children, remember to open windows or turn the AC on. If you have to make a stop, do not leave them in the car alone. Not only is this illegal depending on the child’s age, it is also very dangerous in hot weather.

Vehicles heat up within minutes on hot days. If you think the weather outside is bad, the temperature inside the car is even worse. If you have a young child with you and you need to make a pit stop, bring them with you. It is illegal to leave a child who is 6 years old or younger unattended in a car unless they are supervised by someone who is at least 12 years old. However, even if your child is old enough to legally be left alone in the vehicle, you need to consider if they feel comfortable being left alone, the safety of the surrounding area, and how hot it is outside.

There are a number of consequences the driver can face for leaving their child unattended in a hot vehicle. These consequences include, but are not limited to, fines, jail time, being inspected by social services for child endangerment, and the loss of the child.


Whether it is over 100 degrees or 70 degrees, think of the safety of your child first. Although you may take a few minutes longer during your pit stop, taking them in with you is the safest and most responsible way to handle the situation.


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No Child Left Behind

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As the weather begins to warms up again here in Southern California, we would like to remind parents that convenience is not always the better option, especially when it comes to your kids. It could be the line that defines whether you are a good or bad parent!

For example, you just picked up your 5 year old from pre-school. You need to make a quick stop at the store to buy toilet paper before you go home.

You have two scenarios:

1. Bring your child into the store with you and possibly deal with their crying, screaming, running around, nonstop talking, grabbing and breaking things, etc. Imagine the most nightmarish trip to the store.

2. Leave your child in the car and you will be in and out of the store in 10 minutes. Easy peasy!

Well, unless your child is 7 years old or older, you must go with option 1 because in California, it is illegal to leave a child 6 years old or younger unattended in the car unless they are supervised by someone at least 12 years old. At the same time though, you will need to consider your child’s responsibility and maturity level, and their willingness to be left alone in the car if they are 7 years or older. It could be that your 9 year old son is too immature to be left alone in the car for 10 minutes, or he feels uncomfortable left alone in the car for that long.

Moreover, if it is a hot sunny day outside, the car gets heats up quickly. This builds a dangerous environment for anyone inside the car, especially young children.

Violators of California’s laws regarding children left alone in cars can face fines. In more serious scenarios, child endangerment charges can be brought forth, which is punishable with jail time. You may think that leaving your child alone in the car is harmless, but things can go the wrong way very quickly.