How Iowa’s ‘Good Samaritan Law’ applies to extreme heat situations

The blistering, hot temperatures can put people at risk, and some may need help.
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 7:21 AM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) - This week’s heat has law enforcement urging all of us to keep our eyes open.

The blistering, hot temperatures can put people at risk, and some may need help immediately.

If you want to help someone who may be suffering a heat-related problem, but are worried about getting into trouble, there is a “Good Samaritan Law” that can protect you.

This Iowa law means if a person is rendering first aid to someone in dire need, they’re not held civilly liable for any damages.

An example could be breaking a window to save a child or pet from a hot car.

Iowa State Trooper Ryan DeVault said a person doesn’t automatically have the right to break a window in that situation.

He said there are some tests you need to do first, like using your finger to check the car’s temperature. See if the child is red, sweating, or panting.

In that case, Trooper DeVault said call 911 and law enforcement will take over. However, he said if police aren’t close, and you still feel it’s necessary, you can break the window.

Attorneys said this law won’t protect everyone, and people must be sure what they’re doing beforehand.

If a person who broke the window’s actions were found unwarranted or unreasonable, they could get sued.

“The person bringing the action would have to establish the individual intentionally. Or in the civil case, negligently caused damage to their property,” Attorney Bobby Rehkemper said.

He says the best way to avoid this situation is to call 911 and wait for police to arrive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a car can heat up by 20 degrees in just 10 minutes.

This is especially dangerous for children, because their body temperatures can rise three to five times faster than adults.

Since 1998, seven children in Iowa have died in hot cars.

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