Vermont is the latest state to say that folks who rescue an animal — or a child — from a dangerously hot vehicle will be freed of civil liability. That means that you can smash a car window under these specific circumstances without having to pay for the damage.
As with the other states, you can’t just go swing a hammer whenever you please. To comply with the law, you must make sure the car is actually locked before breaking any windows. You’ve also got to have the reasonable, good faith belief that the pet (or kid) is in imminent harm, and use no more force than is really required.
Call 911 or otherwise alert law enforcement before effecting your rescue, then stay with the rescued pet or child until the cops arrive.
And leave a note on the car letting the owner know what you’ve done and why. The law provides no guidance as to how colorful your language may be in such notes; we expect you can come up with something powerfully vivid, should the need arise.
Tennessee, Florida, and Wisconsin are the other states to have hot car laws in effect now; all got these laws within the last year. Ohio’s law kicks in in August.