Tennessee 'Good Samaritan' legislation could save children left in hot cars

It happens nationwide. A parent gets out of the car, forgetting the child in the backseat. Hours later, the child is dead.

But what could have happened, had somebody seen the little one?

Currently, no state has legislation allowing people who see the problem to break in. On July 1, that will change, as Tennessee enacts a bill allowing people to break children out of hot cars.

It's backed by Rep. David Hawk. "No other state has legislation similar to this, so this is some groundbreaking Good Samaritan legislation," he says.

The bill outlines several steps if someone does see a child locked in a car, telling them to call law enforcement first letting them know of the intent to break into a vehicle. A person can break into any window and get a child out with limited liability.

Hawk says children die in cars in Tennessee every summer.

Dr. Bruce Gibbon from the Bristol Regional Medical Center says temperatures can reach 160 degrees. "It continues to absorb heat from the sun, depending on the color of the car and how well ventilated it is. The temperature is going to go up very rapidly," he says.

And those temperatures can kill or seriously harm children. "It infects organs like the liver, their kidneys, their brain, they get dehydrated quickly, they get overheated and it causes damage that may not be apparent right away," Dr. Gibbon says.

Hawk hopes that this legislation will fix the problem. "Hopefully this will go a long way to saving a child," he says.

Next for Hawk, he hopes to enact similar legislation for pets within the next two years.

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