Heat Wave Reminder – Oregon Law Allows Public Intervention if a Child or Animal is in Danger

A law recently passed in Oregon allows the public to step up if there is a child or animal they believe to be in danger – without being held liable for damages.

Portland is currently in the midst of what could be a record breaking heat wave. The city is forecast to have temperatures climbing above 100 degrees this week. Health officials are urging citizens to stay hydrated and take precautions when traveling.

The state of Oregon also is doing its part to protect those who may not be able to protect themselves. A new law protects Good Samaritans from both civil and criminal liability if they break a vehicle window to help either an unattended child or animal that they believe to be in danger.

House Bill 2732 was signed into immediate effect by Gov. Kate Brown at the end of June 2017.

Previously, citizens were required to contact law enforcement before stepping in to help a child or animal that was locked inside of a hot car.

The law goes on to explain that individuals should “use no more force than is necessary to enter the [car] and remove the child or animal”. After they are removed, the individual would also need to stay with them, until both police and first responders arrive, or the vehicle’s owner returns.

KATU reports that “the law is intended to help children and pets left alone in parked cars during sweltering heat. Concerned citizens should first try to locate the vehicle’s owner and contact the local animal control agency or police department before breaking into the vehicle. Breaking a car window should be considered a last resort.”

The Oregon Humane Society has said that temperatures inside cars can become oven-like in just 20 minutes.

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