The outside temperature was almost 30 degrees: In Hövelhof near Paderborn, police officers freed a two-month-old baby from a locked car on Monday afternoon. The mother had accidentally locked the child in a supermarket car park and left the car keys in the car.
Fearing for her child, she called the police on an emergency call. A police officer carefully smashed the driver’s door window with a jackhammer so as not to injure the baby. Just in case, the ambulance was called. Things don’t always go so smoothly: sometimes the child’s parents aren’t there. Also? Answers to sometimes vital questions.
Why is it so dangerous in a closed car when it’s hot?
In the parked car, the temperature rises in the summer ADAC-Indications in the interior quickly up to 60 degrees – even with open windows. Experts warn that with an outside temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, there is a risk of death after 15 minutes. The problem is exacerbated in children by the fact that they are less able to compensate for temperatures than adults: they sweat significantly less.
Therefore: Even if the period is very short, you should never leave your child alone in the car. This also applies to dogs, which are not allowed in the supermarket. Animals can also overheat in the car and die from it.
How do I recognize an emergency?
If you discover an unattended child alone in a car in the summer heat, you should act quickly. First, tap the glass to see if the child or dog is still moving normally. If you are unsure, talk to other passers-by.
If the child appears listless in the car or if the dog is breathing heavily, call the police on 110 or the fire service on 112. While you are waiting for emergency services, it is imperative that you keep an eye on the occupants of the car to see if the situation worsens .
Can I just smash the window?
If the child’s condition worsens before the emergency services arrive, there is usually only one remedy: break the window. “Before you take action, you should definitely look for witnesses”recommend ADAC-Lawyer Klaus Heimgärtner. “From a purely legal point of view, this is damage to property.”
But the action is then covered by “justifying state of emergency” – in accordance with Article 34 of the Criminal Code. “In an emergency situation with acute danger to life and limb, an illegal act does not lead to being punished for it”, according to Heimgärtner. If a person can be rescued from an emergency situation by breaking the window, one is even obliged to help.
A tip: Before you break the window, you should talk to the police or fire brigade on the phone and then film the process. In this way, you are prepared for any disputes that may arise afterwards. Section 228 of the German Civil Code protects against later compensation claims: The destruction of the object is ultimately carried out to avert danger.
Does this also apply to locked dogs?
In principle, this also applies to dogs. According to section 34 of the Criminal Code, an unavoidable danger of “Life, limb, liberty, honor, property, or any other legal interest” be prevented by suitable means. This also includes animals. If a legal dispute arises, it must be proven that the situation was an emergency.
In any case, it is advisable to inform the police before the rescue operation and to search for the dog’s owner. In general, not all dogs are in acute danger in the car in the summer. Some cars have standing air conditioning and the owner is only a few minutes away.
What are the penalties for those who cause emergencies?
Leaving a child or dog in a locked car in the heat is not a trivial offence. Parents can expect to be charged with violence and child abuse. Both are criminal offences.
The same applies to dog owners. Pet owners who leave their dog in the car when it is hot or below freezing can be sued for animal cruelty. The legislature stipulates a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine.