It’s a hot day, and you see a dog locked inside a car, its owner nowhere in sight.
Any good Samaritan would want to act to free the animal before it dies. But who wants to get arrested for breaking a car window to free the beast? That’s what happened to veteran Michael Hammons, who broke a car window in Athens, Georgia, to free a dog. (Charges were later dropped.)
That won’t happen to you in Tennessee, where a new law extends a good Samaritan law that allows people to break into a hot car to free a child; it now includes animals in danger, according to CNN affiliate WKRN.
People who notify law enforcement and attempt to find the owner will be protected from civil liability if they damage a car while trying to rescue an animal in danger.
“If you act reasonably, as any reasonable person would respond, you will not be at fault to save a life,” Nashville Fire Department Chief of Staff Mike Franklin told WKRN. “You will not be at any fault to save a life and/or animals.”
It can get deadly very quickly for children, the elderly and animals inside a car, says CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. On average, 38 children die each year while trapped in hot cars.
The inside of a car heats up much more quickly than the outside, he said.
Think you can just run into the store for two minutes? “Don’t do it,” Javaheri said.
On a pleasant 75-degree day (outside), the inside of your car can heat up to 90 degrees in just two minutes.
Within 20 minutes, the inside temperature can rise to 104 degrees. After an hour, it can hit 120 degrees.