Items you should avoid leaving in a hot vehicle this summer

Published 1:03 pm Monday, June 5, 2023

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It’s not just children and pets that shouldn’t be left in vehicles during hot weather. Many other common items that are left or stored in a hot vehicle can be severely damaged, destroyed or even explode.

Lexington Emergency Management offers a list of those items:

Sunglasses – Plastic frames can soften and warp, changing the fit to your face.  Plastic lenses can warp as well, making them unusable.  Sunglasses with metal frames can get so hot that they can’t be worn until they cool down.

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Sunscreen – When sunscreen is left in a car, the heat can change the active ingredients in it, making the sunscreen less effective or not effective at all.

Medicines – Any prescription or non-prescription medicine should be kept at no more than 77 degrees unless it is a medication that needs to be refrigerated, like some insulins, heart and thyroid drugs. Heat can cause the medication to lose its effectiveness.

Cosmetics – Make-up can melt and separate, making it unusable.

Aerosol Cans – Hairspray, sunscreen, paint or any material in a pressurized can may explode when temperatures exceed 120 degrees.  Personal protection devices such as pepper sprays also fall into this category.

Electronics – Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, and other electronic devices do not deal well with high temperatures. Batteries and other components inside the device can leak and fail, turning the device into a paperweight. Heat-related damage may not be covered under warranties.

Batteries – Same as electronics. Batteries can deform, leak and even explode when exposed to high heat for long periods of time.

Pens, markers, and crayons – Heat will deform plastic pens and markers.  Ink will either evaporate or leak. Crayons will melt into a gooey mess and then harden once temperatures drop.

Food – Groceries or leftovers should be considered unsafe if left in a hot car for more than an hour. Snacks and candy, especially chocolate, will melt into a gooey mess.

DVDs and CDs – These can warp and become unplayable.

Beer and Wine – Both of these beverages change composition above 78 degrees. Wine will quickly turn into a sour vinegar-like liquid. Beer turns sour as well. Both cans and bottles may explode if kept at high temperatures for long periods of time. Other alcoholic spirits can change under high heat as well.

Canned and Bottled Soda – High heat can affect the taste and consistency of carbonated drinks. Heat can affect some soda ingredients, changing the flavor of the drink. In extreme heat, cans and bottles can explode due to heat creating extreme pressure inside the container.

Plastic Water Bottles – Avoid using plastic water bottles that have been exposed to sunlight and/or heat. Some bottles can release small amounts of the substance BPA, which has been linked to health risks in high amounts. Avoid this by purchasing BPA-free water bottles or a glass container.

Cigarette/Cigar Lighters – Disposable or refillable, the pressurized flammable material will expand under high heat conditions. These can burst and even explode.

Credit/debit cards – High heat can cause these to warp or deform and become unusable, even if they’re the new “chip” style card.

Latex gloves or other latex items – Latex rubber has a relatively low melting point. Gloves and other items can lose their ability to be a barrier or protection.

One suggestion is to keep an insulated ice chest or cooler in the trunk or back seat of the vehicle. This can offer some short-term protection for items from the heat.