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With summer in full swing, people are ready and excited to begin their summer road trips across the country. Road trips are a great, easy way for you and your loved ones, including furry friends, to get away and relax. Whether you’re traveling near or far, we want to make sure that you take the correct steps to fully enjoy your vacation. Ever gotten into your car after it being parked on a hot day and wondered just how hot it was in there? One major issue is that we’re not aware that these temperatures can reach deadly heights, up to 172ºF. We hope you take these safety tips and information seriously before hopping in the car with everyone this summer.

The Rise in Temperature Inside Your Car

Have you ever sat in your car a little too long once the ignition is switched off? If you have, you might have noticed the quick increase in temperature, causing you to leave the car fast. Even being in the car when the inside temperature reaches 80ºF is uncomfortable, but your car can easily reach temperatures 40–60ºF higher with no air circulation!

At outside temperatures as low as 60ºF, the inside of a car temperature can reach up to 100ºF on a sunny day. We caution you to be wary of the consequences of leaving items, children and pets in the car, even on a slightly sunny day. Read on to learn more things to be aware of!


Hot Zones in the US

During the summer, many people begin to road trip out of state, stopping in cities they may not be familiar with. Below we have listed 20 major cities that can reach record breaking temperatures so you can protect your items, car interior, furry pets and travel companions!


Why the Insides of Cars Heat Up

Many people are unaware of how quickly cars can heat up, and even more are uninformed on how a car can reach such scorching temperatures. When a car is parked out in the open, the car is vulnerable to intense rays of direct sunlight. Making matters worse, when the windows are rolled up, as most parked cars are, there is zero air circulation. Direct sunlight and no air circulation is a recipe for disaster for things inside the car. Cars with dark interiors have an even higher risk of dangerous temperatures than light interior cars.

The inside of your car is affected by the sun’s ultraviolet radiation combined with the temperature outside. The inside of your car acts like a greenhouse because the heat is being absorbed by your car.

  • Sun. The sun’s rays are the source of heat entering the car.
  • Dashboard. The sun directly shines through and into the car through this area, receiving the most heat.
  • Glass windows. The glass allows the rays to shine through the car while also acting as an insulator, trapping the heat inside the car.
  • Interior. The heat sits inside the car while only rising in temperature, just like an oven.

The glass windows intensify the heat effects as well, due to their role as an insulator, trapping the heat inside. The dashboard receives the most direct sunlight, which can lead to much hotter temperatures as well as cracking and discoloration. If the sunlight beaming into your car can cause such damage to your dash and car interior, imagine the damage it can cause to personal items, pets and people.

Simply cracking a window will not sufficiently avoid all heat effects from the sun rays and temperature. Yes, some warm air may escape, which can help in the short term. But temperatures are still shown to rise at an alarming rate, leading to car damage and health risks for pets and people left inside.

Melting Point of 6 Items Inside Your Car

The melting point of different items varies, but for a good amount of items typically left in the back of a car, the temperature doesn’t have to increase by much to cause serious damage. A car parked in an outside temperature of 75ºF can quickly raise to 94ºF inside in just 10 minutes. The items left behind can become toxic, melt or explode in the heat of your car, so be wary about what you leave.


Children and Pets Left Behind in the Car + Precautionary Tips

In 2018, there were 51 reports of children dying from being left in a hot car in the US. Use the statistics, tips and precautions below to help you know the signs if you ever come across a situation like this.

The Statistics of Children and Pets Left in the Car

Some may think that leaving loved ones in the car has decreased as a national issue, but unfortunately, the problem continues to persist. We want to bring attention to this item with national statistics.

  • 2018 had the highest total of vehicular heatstroke deaths in the last 21 years. (No Heat Stroke)
  • On average, 38 children and HUNDREDS of pets die each year from being left in hot cars, and this is absolutely one of the most preventable types of death. (Bark Post)
  • Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. (PETA)
  • In a shaded vehicle, a 2-year-old child’s core temperature could reach a dangerous — potentially deadly — 104° F in a little less than 2 hours. (Consumer Reports)


Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Pets and Children

If you are a bystander to a possible emergency situation of a child or pet left in a car, follow these signs to see what action to take. Heat exhaustion can occur at outside temperatures starting at 80ºF.

Signs of heat exhaustion in pets

  • Excessive panting
  • Dark tongue
  • Thick saliva
  • Lack of coordination
  • Exhaustion

Signs of heat exhaustion in children

  • Confusion
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fainting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Pale skin


Tips and Precautions to Take Before Your Car Heats Up

There are preventable measures to make sure that you never encounter this situation. On the bright side, technology is also working to help us become more aware of these situations. In fact, car manufacturers are inventing technology to set reminders for left behind children and pets, a smart investment.

  • Create a habit of checking the back seat by placing important items there. Put your cellphone, ID, credit card or purse in the backseat to help with this habit.
  • Lock your car so children cannot enter the vehicle when unused. 26% of deaths are caused by children climbing into unlocked cars in the US.
  • Make it known to children that the car is not a safe place to play. Teach kids that the car is not a place to play, as some may use it for hide and seek and not realize they’ve locked themselves inside the hot car.
  • Have your daycare teachers call you if your child is 10 minutes late to have a reminder to not forget your child in the backseat. 44% of deaths of children forgotten in hot cars were on the way to daycare or preschool.
  • Keep your dog’s leash up front in the cup holder once everyone is in. The leash will serve as a reminder about your furry friend when you turn off the ignition.
  • Decrease distractions. When driving, you’re already distracted by directions or chatter, which could lead to forgetfulness. Decrease these distractions by putting your phone away and turning down music.
  • Check your state laws to see how you can help. Every state has a different law on what you can and cannot do when you encounter this situation. For example, in California, if you see an animal in trouble you may break the window in order to save the pet, but there is no law stating you may do so with a child, making it illegal to smash a window to save a child. Instead, alert authorities immediately.

list of tips to remember before your car heats up

As stated before, this dreadful issue is one of the most preventable situations, especially by implementing these safety tips and precautions in your driving routine. We want you to have nothing but the best experience on your next road trip, even under the hot summer sun. Stay safe and share these tips with loved ones to avoid tragedy. Have a fun, safe and wonderful summer!

Sources: AccuWeather | AccuWeather | ThoughtCo