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Is smashing a window to save a child or pet illegal?

Some states have 'hot car' laws, which allow people to smash a window to save a child or pet. North Carolina's laws aren't the same.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — As summer ramps up, the messages to check for your kids or pets in a hot car have begun.

It's because 38 children die every year after being left in hot cars, according to the National Safety Council.

What do you do if you encounter a child or pet in a hot car?

Greensboro Police said in some states there are Good Samaritan laws related to hot cars, where people can break a window to make the rescue.

In North Carolina, Sergeant A.D. Reed said you can't do that, only law enforcement can. 

"Don't take it upon yourself to do anything because you may be liable if you cause damage to another vehicle, or you do something that's going to be careless or reckless from that standpoint," said Reed. "We want you to start the 911 process, get law enforcement, get fire, get EMS there, that's what we would like you to do."

Reed said calling 911 should be the first thing you should do. Then find someone to flag down first responders and keep an eye on the car. 

He said you are allowed to knock on the window, but you should not try to open the door. 

"That's one of those sticky situations because technically it could be considered tampering with a motor vehicle because you're doing it," Reed said. "If you're trying to check on somebody, you want to knock on that window first try to make contact with them."

He said you cannot break windows of cars either. 

"You don't just need to go start breaking out windows because you see a dog or a kid in the car," he said. "We want to be safe, we want you to be secure."

Reed said the number of calls increase this time of year, so if you are concerned, make sure to call 911. 

"If it concerns you and you're concerned about it and it's in your mind, I worry about this person, I worry about this animal, call us that's what we're here for," Reed said. 

AAA Carolinas Public Affairs Director, Tiffany Wright, said it's important to get in the habit of checking your back seat. 

"Get in that practice of making sure you're checking your front seat, your back seat, putting something behind so you have to in fact turn so you have to look in that back seat, these are just some things that we can do during this extreme heat," said Wright. 

She said putting things like wallets, purses, and phones in the backseat will force you to look back and see what's behind you.

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