PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The extreme heat gets even more extreme inside a car, posing real dangers to kids and pets left inside for even a short time. But a new law signed by Gov. Kate Brown allows a person to break into the car to save the child or dog from imminent danger.
The law, signed June 22, provides “that person who enters motor vehicle to remove child or domestic animal in imminent danger of suffering harm is not subject to criminal or civil liability if person meets certain requirements.”
Among those requirements: the person must stay on the scene until emergency responders arrive.
In late July, 2 baby boys died in Arizona in separate incidents where they were left inside a hot car on triple-digit days.
Even mild temperatures can pose dangers to animals, especially if they are left inside a car. When it’s 75 degrees outside, it can heat up to 100 degrees or more in a car.
A proposed law that would require carmakers to build alarms for back seats is being pushed by child advocates who say it will prevent kids from dying in hot cars.
The law also would streamline the criminal process against caregivers who cause the deaths — cases that can be inconsistent but often heavier-handed against mothers.
More than two dozen child and road safety groups are backing the U.S. Senate bill introduced last week aimed at preventing those kinds of deaths by requiring cars to be equipped with technology that can alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the vehicle is turned off. It could be a motion sensor that can detect a baby left sitting in a rear-facing car seat and then alert the driver, in a similar way that reminders about tire pressure, open doors and seat belts now come standard in cars.
On average, 37 children die from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles — KidsAndCars.org
Dogs and cats don’t have sweat glands — that’s why they pant so much. So leaving them in a hot car for even a short time can quickly cause major problems.
Signs of heatstroke are panting, vomiting, warm and dry skin, rapid heartbeat, staring or anxious expressions, collapsing and refusal to obey commands. To help lower the body temperature, put towels soaked in cool water on the hairless parts of your pet and use a fan to cool them off.
The Oregon Humane Society’s David Lytle suggested a kiddie pool with cool water for your pets. You could also use a hose or water bottle to spray your pet with cool water to lower their body temperature.
He also said breaking a window to save a pet should be a last resort.
“I would say call the police or your local animal control agency and describe the situation, and they will probably advise you if that dog looks like it’s about to die, break the window,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I do caution people that’s the last resort and you might want to see if that dog is at imminent risk of dying, that it’s lethargic, it might be vomiting, it might be totally unconscious. Try and find the owner, call the police. If none of that works you can break into that car.”
If you’re running errands, Lytle said, leave your pet at home.
“If I’m running errands on a day like today where it’s so hot, I leave my dog at home (with) water, food, a fan. I keep her there.”
• Never leave your pet in a car.
• Don’t overdo outdoor exercise.
• Take extra precaution with older dogs and dogs with shorter noses.
• Apply pet-safe sunscreen to your dog.
• When in doubt, stay indoors.
What other states do
At this time, 26 states have “hot car” laws. Oregon is among 11 states with laws that allow citizens to break in and save the child or pet. Washington allows certain public officials, such as law enforcement or humane officers, to break in to a car.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.