New law lets you break a window to rescue a child trapped in a hot car

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Leaving children in the car during the sweltering summer can be deadly, but now if you see a child in danger, you can help without risking criminal charges.

The inside of a car left in the sun can get up to 140 degrees. That’s a temperature that could quickly kill a child.

The Shelby County District Attorney’s office and Memphis Child Advocacy Center want to make sure that doesn’t happen this summer.

“Every year we hear the tragic stories, young lives lost,” Virginia Stallworth with the Child Advocacy Center said. “We at the Child Advocacy Center want to make sure that everyone knows the danger.”

District Attorney General Amy Weirich said in April, a woman intentionally left her child inside the car while she was at a Memphis store.

“The woman became agitated and irate that anyone would tell her how to take care of her children,” Weirich said.

Now, thanks to a new law, if you see a child left inside a hot car, you can break the window to get them out.

“It takes somebody walking through a parking lot to feel that they have the strength to do something about it, and they certainly do under the law in the state of Tennessee,” Weirich said.

She added that it’s illegal to leave children under the age of 7 unattended in the car any time of year and said she will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who puts a child’s life at risk.

“When we start talking about children being left in cars and serious bodily injury being inflicted or the worst, death, then it becomes serious felony punishment.”

Weirich said people need to call police before they attempt to break out a window. She also encourages people to call if they see an animal left in a hot car.

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