Between family vacations, shuttling around out-of-school kids and taking more day trips, it seems we spend more time in our cars during the summer than any other season.
As temperatures outside continue to climb, so does the temperature inside your car. Even if you’re not the type of driver who practically lives out of their car, it’s easy to accumulate a collection of items during your summer travels. However, these everyday items can be potential health hazards and hot messes that could harm you or your passengers.
Don’t get burned by bad behavior. Here are 12 things you should never keep inside a hot car.
12 Things You Should Never Keep Inside a Hot Car
1. Your Pet
This one’s a no-brainer, but it still needs to be said. Leaving a pet locked inside a car is never safe, even if you’re dashing into the grocery store. It’s a form of animal cruelty, and it’s illegal in many states and local governments. On a mild day, the inside of your car can become dangerously hot in a matter of minutes.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the temperature inside your car can increase by nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes, and the more time passes, the hotter it gets. On an 80-degree day, your car’s interior can heat up to more than 120 degrees within an hour, and cracking the windows doesn’t help. Leave your pets at home, where they’ll be safe, comfortable and happy to see you when you come home.
If you see a pet inside a hot car, write down the vehicle’s make, model and license plate. Notify nearby businesses, managers or security officers and ask them to make an announcement to locate the vehicle’s owner. If you can’t find the owner, call your local police department’s non-emergency number or animal control and wait by the vehicle for them to arrive.
2. Plastic Water Bottles
Nothing like a nice swig of warm water that’s been boiling in your car all day, right? It’s not just that warm water isn’t refreshing—mounting research suggests it could be bad for you.
Plastic is made from petroleum byproducts and other chemicals like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that are harmless so long as they remain at room temperature. However, according to a University of Florida study, hot temperatures cause these compounds to leach the chemicals antimony and bisphenol A (BPA) into water packaged in PET bottles. Although BPA appears to be safe at low levels, it’s believed to carry some health risks, including interfering with estrogen and other reproductive hormones in the body.
Plus, plastic water bottles are known fire starters. Leaving a bottle lying on the passenger seat seems harmless enough, but the plastic can act as a lens that magnifies sunlight, sparking a flame that burns through upholstery.
And if you’re still drinking out of plastic bottles, consider investing in an environmentally-friendly, reusable water bottle that will keep cool all day!
Hot temps can not only cause the active ingredients in sunscreen to become unstable and ineffective, but they can also cause spray cans and tubes to explode, leaving you with a hot mess. Plus, you also run the risk of burning yourself by slathering on sunscreen that’s been heating up inside your car. Ouch!
4. Soda Cans
They’re small enough to roll under your seat or be forgotten in your trunk. Carbonated beverages are packaged under pressure in aluminum, a heat conductor that can cause the liquid inside to heat up and increase in pressure. Add in the motion from a moving car, and you could wind up with a sticky mess.
Electronics are never meant to be stored in a car, but sometimes convenience reigns supreme. Phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, memory cards, batteries, CDs and DVDs are all meant to be kept below 100 degrees. Stashing your gadgets under the driver’s seat or in your center console may seem like a great way to keep these items safe from prying eyes, but it won’t keep them safe from heat damage.
Exposure to high temperatures can affect your devices’ functionality. Camera lenses and memory cards can be destroyed, the DVDs you’ve been keeping for your family road trip can warp, and batteries can explode and leak harmful acid. If you absolutely must keep devices and other tech accessories in your car, keep them out of direct sunlight and in a thick, padded case.
Heat can cause materials like plastic, nylon and acetate to soften, changing the way your sunglasses, prescription eyeglasses or reading glasses fit. Your car might have a handy compartment for your glasses, but that’s to keep them safe in motion. Don’t stash your shades once you’ve arrived at your destination, and definitely don’t keep them on the windshield, where they could act as a magnifying glass and spark a flame.
High temperatures and humidity probably won’t make your medication harmful to take, but it could decrease its effectiveness. Most medicine is meant to be stored at room temperature, and if you’re ever unsure, just check the warning label.
8. Disposable Lighters
Scorching temps could literally scorch your vehicle. Heat can cause the chemicals inside a disposable lighter to expand and explode, damaging glass or burning holes in the seats. Keep lighters out of your vehicle to prevent a fire.
9. Aerosol Cans
There are plenty of safe places to keep a compressed can of a flammable substance. Inside of your car is not one of them! Heat and pressure can become so intense that an aerosol can ruptures and explodes. You could wind up with a huge mess, or worse, the projectile from the explosion could seriously hurt someone.
If you keep cosmetics handy for touch-ups, you may want to rethink how you’re storing them. Lipstick and other stick cosmetics can melt at slightly above room temperature. Heat can also cause the active ingredients in some skincare products to become ineffective, and it can also alter a product’s color and texture.
Dirty gym clothes, damp beach towels and wet swimsuits left in a hot car can become a breeding ground for bacteria that cause infection. Don’t let these items sit in your car.
We’ve all been burned by a rogue chocolate bar, stick of gum or pack of candy that turned into an ooey gooey mess, but don’t forget about other food and road trip snacks. Warm temperatures can cause meat and dairy to spoil, so if you’re embarking on a picnic with turkey sandwiches and potato salad, you’d be wise to pack a couple of ice packs too.
If you’re running errands, make grocery shopping your last stop. The USDA recommends that perishables be put in the fridge within 2 hours, and in the summer that window is even shorter.
Don’t Get Burned This Summer
Personal Express Insurance can keep you safe wherever the road takes you this summer. Learn how you can save money by bundling your homeowners and auto insurance by calling 1-800-499-3612 or chatting with a Homegrown Pro in your neighborhood.