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Blog category: Driving

7 Items You Should Never Leave in a Hot Car

4 min read

Certain items such as laptops, cameras, and overnight bags should never be left in your car — that is if you ever want to see them again. In addition to the risk of theft, there’s also the danger of heat damage from the sun. Even on a comfortable 73-degree day, a car parked in direct sunlight can reach an internal temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour.

However, it’s not just electronics that will react badly to “hot box” conditions. Many common household items can be damaged — or worse — become a danger if exposed to extreme heat. Read on to learn the 7 items you should never leave in a hot car.

1. Aerosol Cans

Most aerosol cans should be stored in a ventilated space at temperatures under 120 degrees. In many parts of the country, the mercury can reach the 90s and 100s so internal car temps will be even higher. The contents of aerosol cans, such as those containing hairspray, sunblock, or spray paint, are likely to expand in the heat.

This creates the possibility of an explosion, which can prove dangerous or even deadly to anyone in the car at the time. Clear your car of aerosol cans as soon as you get home, so they don’t get forgotten.

2. Medication

As you’re most likely aware, many medications need to be stored at room temperature to remain fully effective. So, leaving them in a hot car for any length of time is not optimal as the drug’s potency can decrease. Also, creams and ointments can melt. Try to plan your pharmacy pickup at the end of your errand run just before heading home.

3. Sunscreen

Like medication, sunscreen does not do well when left in a hot vehicle. Extreme temps can render the formula less effective and the ingredients to separate and potentially leak. If you like to keep sunscreen on-hand in your car, but don’t want an oily mess all over the interior, try a sunscreen formulated with mineral powder that comes with a brush. That way, you avoid messy spills while still protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

4. Hand Sanitizer

According to stories on the internet, hand sanitizer can explode if left in a hot car. While alcohol-based formulas could explode or ignite when exposed to flames, it is unlikely to happen due to high temps inside a car. Several studies have shown that the maximum temperature in a vehicle left in direct sunlight for an hour would reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whereas the alcohol in the sanitizer would have to reach 600 degrees for it to spontaneously combust. However, as with other materials, heat can reduce or destroy the product’s effectiveness.

5. Food

Food can quickly spoil when subjected to extreme heat. “Meltables” like chocolate and ice cream comes to mind, but any type of perishable food will be unfit for consumption if left in the car for any length of time. As with medication pick up, head straight home after the grocery run. Planning a picnic? Pack your goodies in a cool bag and remove them immediately from the car after you park.

6. Drinks

Your favorite beverages are also susceptible. No one wants to drink warm soda, beer, or wine on a hot day, so place bottles or cans in an ice-filled cooler. Tepid water isn’t tasty either, but plastic water bottles also present another issue. The chemicals in the plastic can leach into the drinking water if exposed to extreme heat. Instead, decant your H2O into a thermal canteen and enjoy cold, fresh water when you need it most.

7. Eye Glasses

If you need to wear glasses to see clearly, they will hopefully be on your face when you get out of the car. But spare sets and, of course, sunglasses are often left behind. If glasses are left in the car for any length of time, they’ll be too hot to wear, and you run the risk of the sun warping the frames. Store any spares in a case and consider investing in a chain to keep sunglasses around your neck.

Bottom line: It’s best not to leave anything in your car on hot days, but sometimes you have no choice. If that’s the case, try to mitigate the heat by parking in the shade if possible. And consider investing in a sunshade for your windshield.

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