Summer is nearly here, meaning many folks are getting ready to pack up their cars and hit the road for a quick day trip or weekend getaway. However, with the weather getting warmer, hot cars present a serious safety risk—but it's not just kids or pets you have to be mindful not to leave in the car when the temperature starts to rise. Experts say that one summer essential could be putting your safety in jeopardy if you're letting it sit inside your hot car.
According to Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, president of ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, a Chicago-based Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)-certified fire damage restoration company, aerosol sunscreen can present a serious risk to your wellbeing if you're letting it sit in your car on a hot day.
"The temperature of a car that's left out in the sun can quickly reach 120 degrees or more. Do not keep spray sunscreen in your car as the propellant used in [it] is very flammable," says Rodriguez-Zaba.
Your sunscreen may actually benefit from being stored somewhere cooler, too—according to the U.S. Food&Drug Administration, in order to be most effective against sunburn and sun damage, sunscreen containers should be protected from direct sunlight and excessive heat.
That's not the only item you'd be better off removing from your car before you head out on a sunny day. Read on to discover which other products could be putting you at risk if you're storing them in your car, according to experts.
While medication is a must-have when you're on vacation, if you're keeping those prescriptions in your hot car for prolonged periods of time, you could be putting yourself at risk.
"You shouldn't leave any kind of medicines in your car because most medicines are only effective when they are stored below 77 degrees Fahrenheit," says Waqas Ahmad Buttar, MBBS, a family physician with Sachet Infusions. Buttar notes that insulin is particularly temperature-sensitive. If you're traveling with insulin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend storing the medication in a cooler, but not in direct contact with ice or ice packs.
While you may be inclined to reapply your deodorant more frequently when the weather's hot, if you use an aerosol formula, you're better off keeping it at home.
"Look at the back of each aerosol product that you intend on leaving in the car. In some instances, there's a warning label that indicates the maximum temperature the aerosol can be exposed to. But to play it safe, you should avoid leaving any aerosols in your car," says Rodriguez-Zaba.
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If you feel like your hair needs some freshening up before you head out for the evening, do it at home, because leaving your aerosol hair products in your car can be perilous.
In 2019, Missouri resident Christine Debrecht had the sun roof and center console blown out of her car, thanks to a can of dry shampoo.
"It blew [the console] straight off its hinges and blew the whole thing off. And then shot up through the sunroof and it was about 50 feet away," Debrecht told local NBC affiliate KSDK.
If you've picked up some spray paint at your local hardware store, don't wait too long to bring it home—and especially don't leave it in your car.
Similar to aerosol personal care products, spray paint can explode if exposed to high temperatures over a prolonged period of time. In 2018, a U.K. man had to have surgery and skin grafts after a spray paint can in a friend's hot camper exploded and pieces of the resulting shrapnel became lodged in his skin.