Saving Someone From A Hot Parked Car

Default Action for Saving Someone Trapped in a Hot Car — Call 911

When you notice a child, elderly person or pet locked in a hot car, even if the windows are partially down–this is typically an emergency situation. People and animals can die of hyperthermia (overheating, sustained high body temperature) in a locked parked car, in a very short time. You are perfectly justified in calling 911 to save a life, and acting on your own is risky.

We don’t wish to advocate that people should immediately break windshields or car windows (especially if it’s not their vehicle) it is always best to call the authorities. HOWEVER, if it is a complete emergency, we want our local community to be advised of the proper way to go about breaking a rear windshield or car side window.

We also understand that you are free to use your best judgement in dealing with an emergency situation. We hope in providing guidance, we can protect you from physical harm as well in the event you make the decision to act in a situation like this by breaking a car window. You will be better able to offer aide in an emergency situation if you successfully prevent injury to yourself in the process. 

Saving Someone from a Hot Parked Car

How to Break a Car Window to Save a Life: Strategy

The laws of physics dictate that you’ll require intensely targeted force to break a car window. Blunt force won’t shatter the car window. Specifically, you need a sharp, pointed object—such as a spark plug. A plug is a natural choice in this situation since they are readily available under the hood of a car (except for diesel models).

To break the car’s side window or back windshield:

  1. Remove a spark plug from under the hood of the car in question–or from a nearby vehicle, perhaps your own. Another bystander may offer to help you pull the plug–if you tell them a spark plug is needed. Usually, spark plugs are located near the top of the engine and can be found by the cords attached to them (occasionally, spark plugs may be underneath ignition coils or a cover. You may find small screws or bolts you will need to remove to disconnect the spark plug from its connector).
  2. With spark plug in hand, smash it into the ground (cement parking lot) or into the side of a masonry building. If you have a hammer or metal bar to smash into the spark plug, this can help. Smashing the spark plug should chip off some of its porcelain outer covering. Your broken spark plug should now have sharp pieces of white porcelain laying around it. Pick up one or two pieces. (You may get a cut on your hand in the process, so–if time and anxiety level allow–be careful picking up the shattered porcelain piece(s).
  3. Tell the trapped person, if they are conscious (or communicate to the animal if you can) to lean out of the way. (For an animal, you might do a mock throw of the porcelain first–so s/he will naturally react by backing away from the car window.)
  4. Now, take your small piece of sharp porcelain and throw it at the center of the side car window as hard as you can. Even though you are not generating much force with your throw, the sharp porcelain point focuses the force. It should cause a tiny fracture in the tempered auto glass, which will instantly spread out. The window will look like a spider web of cracks, and there may be an actual hole in the center. (By safely shattering, we mean that tempered automotive glass is designed to shatter without producing sharp shards of glass. Tempered car window glass produces crumbled bits that are not sharp and should stick together–so you can pull out the shattered window from the center weak point or hole. This prevents injury you and the car’s passenger.)
  5. Help the trapped person or pet out of the car and into shade.Or at least open the car doors to get fresh, cooler air to the victim. Offer water, but don’t force it. Offer a cool, wet cloth or towel. If there is somewhere you can take them indoors to A/C or to find others to help, this might be a good idea, but avoid pushing them if it means they could risk falling or losing consciousness.
  6. Wait with the victim for authorities, unless you feel unsafe doing so. If there are others around, you may want to ask another to wait with you or find someone who can. Don't hesitate to ask others for specific help when handling an emergency situation!

Other Emergency Options to Break a Car Window or Rear Windshield

If you don’t have access to a spark plug, you can use any type of sharp porcelain shard, such as a broken:

  • Ceramic ashtray
  • Coffee mug
  • Smoking pipe
  • Porcelain “china” keychain charm
  • Decorative item hanging from the rearview mirror
  • Dish from a nearby restaurant
  • Item from a bystander, or a nearby convenience store or any other retailer

Ideally, hit the car window at its weakest point (near the center), but other spots may work just as well.

Crystal Clear View Glass knows that things happen, and we want to make sure you and your family stay safe. We know the importance of family safety. We hope you found this information helpful, and if you have any auto glass questions or needs please feel free to call us at 602-224-7900.

Whether working with businesses or individuals, everyone at Crystal Clear View Glass puts people first. It starts with Brandon, who hires self-directed professionals and empowers them to make a difference in every interaction. That culture is pervasive, from the team member who answers your call to the installer who expertly completes your glass project.