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Expert explains hot car dangers, Good Samaritan law

Tennessee state law lets you intervene if you see a child or pet in danger.

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — As summer temperatures continue to heat up, Knoxville Police officers are warning people to be extra careful not to leave children or pets in the back seat of a car.

After just ten minutes in a hot car, our thermometer read 100 degrees. Within an hour, it had reached 135 degrees.

On Friday afternoon, KPD officers found a child dead inside a hot car in North Knoxville. Investigators are still working to piece together what happened. 

RELATED: Child found dead in hot car outside Knoxville shopping center

In Tennessee, state law lets you intervene if you see a child or pet in danger. 

"Tennessee passed a Good Samaritan law," AMR and Rural Metro clinical director Chris McClain said. "If you see either a child or animal in distress, you can break out a window to gain access to that individual or pet."

In order to legally break a window, you must be certain that all doors are locked and be acting in "good faith," per the state law. You also must contact 9-1-1 or local law enforcement before attempting to help.

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"Make sure you call 911 early so we can have those responders in route to you," McClain said. "If you were to determine you need to break the window of a vehicle, the weakest points are generally in the four corners."

He also advised people to break the window farthest from the child or pet to prevent further injuries. 

If someone rescues the child or pet, the state law mandates they stay with the pet or child until law enforcement arrives and leave a note for the vehicle owner with their contact information and what happened. 

"If you know you have a child, check that vehicle before you exit it just to make sure. If you're out, be observant," McClain said. "Always call 911 immediately to get trained professionals and help on the way."

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