A Hazard of Leaving Things in a Vehicle During Hot Days or Months.
While on a recent trip I accidently discovered something I wish I had discovered years ago.
When I opened the pocket in the center console of our van, I found papers that were scorched;
and the toilettes I had stored there to wipe our hands were also scorched. Then I remembered
how hot it can get in a closed vehicle. I had been leaving two bottles of hand sanitizer in
the van too. On the label on the back of the hand santitizer it reads Flammable. Wow! We were
fortunate to not have a fire in the van.
The toilettes are small wet wipes made of a paper product and are used to clean and sanitize the
hands. I took all of this from the van and told my husband to please remove anything else he sees
that can either be ignited to set on fire or is flammable. We had even been leaving plastic water
bottles in the van. He removed those as well. We do have glass quart sized bottles we tranport
water in from our home. We have a whole house water filter system. But occasionaly we have
bottled water purchased at a store.
You can see the scorched places on the papers in the first picture below. On the back of the
label in the second picture, the word flammable is on it.
This is not the only hazardous items, consider batteries in cameras, flashlights, cell phones
and any other item that contains batteries. Many batteries today are lithium and can explode
under high heat.
Look through your car, van, truck, or any vehicle that can get super hot inside while being
exposed to high heat from the sun. Leaving things on the dashboard makes the hazard even
more dangerous. When the heat of the sun's rays go through the windshield that can easily
cause a fire if anything flammable is on the dashboard. So why do resorts expect a paper
identification be placed on the dashboard? They should consider a small placard with the
name of the resort on it to hang from the rear view mirror. Even a removable sticker would
work. Just think, when out in nature and you do not have matches, you can use the heat of
the sun's rays to ignite kindling wood.
What do you think the sun's rays can do to paper items left on the dashboard? I do not
remember the brand car it was, but in the 1990s there was a small car that the dashboard
melted when the car was left exposed to the Arizona sun.
Please consider these as very serious hazards. Read the labels on anything you
leave in your vehicle. Ladies, that includes make-up and colognes. Lipstick will not
burn but it will certainly melt. Think what can happen if you leave a tube of lipstick
in a pocket of a blouse or slacks and put that item in the clothes dryer. Medications
can become damaged and / or hazardous too when left in a vehicle that is left in the
heat of the sun.
Update July 18, 2016: Anything that the contents is under pressure usually has a note
on it to not leave it in heat. That includes products for vehicles. We found such a can
in the van today when we left it for repairs. Everything in the van had to come out.
We were not going to leave any of our belongings in the van. There was a minor accident
and the van needed repairs. My husband forgot the can was in the van. This was a can
of spray used to clean the battery connectors. It was under my umbrella in a side pocket
in the back luggage area.
Chocolate, peanut butter and jelly will melt. There are many things that will catch on
fire. And many things that will melt. Use common sense and do not leave anything in
your vehicle that could be burned easily or that will melt.
Note: More items may be added to this page. If you can think of anything that should
be included in this list please send me an email and tell me.
There are other dangers of heat in the summer. The temperature in an enclosed vehicle
can climb rapidly. Leaving the windows down / open a little is not effective.
A suggestion is to put precious items in the trunk but the trunk can get hot inside too.
Putting CDs under the seat is not a good idea either. The entire inside of a vehicle gets
I used to put a hand towel over the steering wheel. That helps very little, but it does
help prevent the steering wheel from getting as hot as it could get. Then you have to
contend with folding the towel and putting it on the floor board in the back seat or
putting it in the trunk. Vehicle trunks get hot in the summer heat too.
Use sun shades on the front window and on the rear window as well. What I noticed on ours
is there are cloth loops that can be used to hook over the place where the sun visor rests
when not in use. Use it for the sunshade as well, then put the visor down. That will help to
keep the front sun shade in place. I have not figured out the back window yet. The glass in
our rear window was completely knocked out in the recent accident. I will check that out
when I can. However, it might can be checked out on the FJ Cruiser, my husband's car.
Parking in a shaded area is not always possible or feasible and will not prevent a vehicle
from getting dangerously hot inside. Parking under a tree leaves your vehicle exposed to
the "droppings" from birds, pollen from the trees and sap drippings. But that could be a
fairly good choice if the option is available. It is a little cooler in the shade but heat
is heat, especially in the summer months. Consider putting an outdoor thermometer in
your vehicle and leave it for several hours, even an hour. What does that tell you?
I have never heard of dashboard covers or solar powered fans to put in a vehicle (car, van,
truck etc.) but that was suggested in a website I visited. Hmmm I should check that out.
(Note: I did check this out. See the first link below. Why circulate hot air?)
A good cool breeze does feel good. My van might appreciate it. But then when windows are
closed in a house and just fans are on, the only thing you are doing is circulating hot air.
Would not the same thing apply to a car, van, truck, etc.? You can't leave the air
conditioning on in a parked vehicle!
When a vehicle is not in use, the best thing to do is to park it in a garage if you have a garage
that is not over flowing with items that used to be in the house. In other words, if you have
a garage that is truly a garage. Even a carport will help to keep your car, van, truck, etc
out of direct sunlight when it is not being driven.
NEVER leave a person or animal in a parked car, especially in the summer. Temperatures inside
vehicles can soar even on cool days. I remember two children dying in a parked car in Tennessee
when I lived there in the 1960s. That was the first such death ever reported to date as I recall.
I have seen elderly people left in a vehicle while the caretaker went into a store.
DO NOT DO THAT!
Update July 25, 2016 - another website of interest. This first one compares leaving your
valuables in your parked vehicle with putting them in heated oven, no real difference.
Solar Powered Fans/Ventilators for vehicles
National Child Vehicular Heat Deaths
Heat Exposure in an Enclosed Vehicle
Parked cars get dangerouly hot, even on cool days
Fires are not the only hazards of leaving things in vehicles in this heat.
Several people have died this year to include two children the week-end
of July 23rd and 24th.
Children die left in cars