broken glass car side window

As a rule, you shouldn’t break car windows. Not only is it mean, it puts you on the bad side of law enforcement. Thanks to a recent piece of Arizona legislation, however, there is one legal exception.

House Bill 2494, which Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law this May, allows a “Good Samaritan” to break a window to rescue a child or pet from a hot car. A lot of people believe this was already legal, but it technically wasn’t. Of course, even under the new law you do need to follow certain rules. But first…

Why smash a window?

As we’ve mentioned in other articles, during the Arizona summer — and even our toasty spring and fall — car interior temperatures can skyrocket. Within five minutes the temperatures can exceed 130 degrees and will eventually climb above 150.

Kids and pets don’t last long at those temperatures, and every year there are tragic deaths. Unfortunately, some parents and owners are just careless, clueless or forgetful. So you could very well come across this situation at some point.

When to smash a window

Prior to the legislation, breaking a window to rescue a trapped child or pet was legally dubious. The recommended course of action was to call law enforcement and wait. Under the new law, however, breaking a window is legal as long as you meet three criteria.

  1. You must notify law enforcement or emergency personnel first.
  2. You must in good faith believe the child or pet’s life is in danger.
  3. You must remain with the child or pet until emergency personnel arrive.

If you meet those criteria, then you should be OK. As Gov. Ducey said about the bill, “[we are] sending a signal that breaking a car window should be the last consideration when someone’s life is on the line.”

How to smash a window

Of course, even if you decide to break a window, it might be easier said than done, as this reporter demonstrates.

You should ideally get a car safety tool that includes a window breaker. It could also come in handy if you get caught in a flash flood and need to break out of your own car. Gloves are a good idea as well.

Also, don’t break the window next to the child or pet you’re trying to rescue. Tempered glass shards shouldn’t cause any cuts, but you still don’t want to shower a child or pet in tiny pieces of glass. They might accidentally get it in their eyes or swallow a piece.

– Justin Ferris,