Senate District 31
Jay Hottinger
Empowering Ohio's Good Samaritans to Take Action When a Child's Life is at Risk
A Guest Column by State Senator Jay Hottinger
February 29, 2016

I am proud to announce the Senate’s passage of Good Samaritan legislation empowering Ohioans to take action when faced with the potentially life-or-death decision whether to rescue a neglected child from a locked vehicle, preventing exposure to extreme temperatures.

Senate Bill 125 provides civil immunity for Good Samaritans who break into a vehicle in order to rescue a child or pet locked inside. Our goal is to ensure there is no hesitation before responsibly intervening. Quick action can mean the difference between life and death in these tragic situations.

The bill stipulates that if a child or pet is in immediate danger, a person must make an attempt to contact law enforcement or emergency personnel before breaking into the car. Rescuers must leave a note on the windshield and remain with the child or pet until first-responders arrive.

The rising number of deaths caused by children neglected in vehicles is a tragedy. Researchers at San Jose State University found that 24 children died in locked cars in 2015. One of those was an 8-month-old infant, from northeast Ohio, found in a locked car left in a store parking lot. The child's death occurred on the same day Senator Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) and Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley) introduced this bill in September. Child neglect affects communities all across our state and we must do all we can to empower Ohioans to take action to protect children.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, heatstroke can occur in outside temperatures of only 57 degrees Fahrenheit. A child’s body temperature can rise 5 times faster than an adult’s, with death occurring at 107 degrees. Cracking a car window or parking in the shade is clearly not enough to prevent death – even if the temperature is in the 60s, a car can heat up to 110 degrees inside quite quickly.

Children should never be left alone in vehicles, even for short periods of time. But when they are, we as a state can protect those who take action from potential repercussions. It is important that Ohio's Good Samaritans know they are protected when they seek to do the right thing.

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