20 Dangerous Items Which Should Never be Left in a Car
Ever cleared out your car and been amazed at just how much stuff you’ve got in there? Our vehicles end up like a second home, packed full of rubbish, stuff we’ve forgotten about, items we think might come in handy sometime. If you’ve got kids, the problem is doubled with toys, snacks, blankets and the myriad of products you need to take children out and about. While for the most part, it’s just a case of making your car look a mess, several items can actually be very dangerous if left in your car, and some of these might surprise you…
1. Hand sanitiser
At one time, carrying hand sanitiser was seen as something only done by the super fussy, but of course now it’s become part of all our daily routines and so it’s very likely you have some in your car. That makes sense of course, you want to ensure your hands are sanitised after you’ve been somewhere, but did you know that keeping sanitiser in your car can actually be a fire hazard in some circumstances if it’s an alcohol based product? Particular when close to a naked flame, or a disregarded cigarette end if you happen to smoke. Furthermore, the alcohol can also evaporate quickly in sunlight, making your sanitiser less effective. So it’s much better to keep your sanitiser in a bag or pocket rather than storing it in the car.
2. Plastic bottles
So many of us are guilty of this one, we have a bottle of fizzy drink or water then we ditch the empty bottle in the footwell. This is really not a good idea, as in high temperatures the plastic starts to deteriorate, and it can release toxic chemicals such as phthalates and BPA which can disrupt hormone function and have been linked to cancer and heart disease.
Pressurised canisters are a real no-no in the car, so if you have deodorant at the ready for after the gym, or hair spray for a quick spritz on the way to work, then you need to change your routine as they can literally explode if the temperature rises and pressure starts to build up inside the canister.
You should perhaps think twice about taking a picnic on a long car journey. In the summer months, many foods become dangerous to eat after quite a short period of time. Don’t risk food poisoning, buy your food when you’re at your destination if you’re going to be travelling a long way by car. Bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses double every 20 minutes at room temperature and even faster in the heat, so do bear that in mind!
Heat causes alcohol to evaporate and it can also cause wine corks to pop. Fizzy drink cans may explode if they get too hot, and exposure to the sun can affect the flavour of many beverages. Drinks just don’t travel well so you’re much better off buying what you need when you arrive.
If you find a lovely plant in a garden centre when you’re far from home, you might want to resist buying it as even mild temperatures can kill some plants within a few hours. If you’re travelling with plants, try to keep them cool, well watered and in the shade, and get them out of the car as soon as you can.
Keeping a make-up bag in the car might seem convenient for those quick touch ups, but you’re likely to find that your lipstick melts in warmer weather, and any liquids such as creams and lotions spoil very easily.
8. Art supplies
If the kids love to draw in the car, to keep themselves entertained on a long journey, you should count crayons in and out of the car as one dropped on the floor can melt and cause an awful mess on your carpet that’s really tricky to remove.
As with crayons, candles can melt in high temperatures, and those in a glass container are quite dangerous as they can shatter if exposed to excess heat.
Smokers should be very careful about leaving cigarette lighters in the car, they’re a real fire hazard if left in the sun. It can be tempting to throw them on the dashboard or an empty passenger seat but it’s much safer to put it in your pocket so it leaves the car with you.
Whether it’s a new set you’ve bought, or old batteries removed and dumped in the car, you need to be cautious as batteries can leak in high temperatures. Battery acid is toxic and it can also damage the interior of your vehicle.
Medication can become less effective if exposed to high temperatures or high humidity. This could of course have serious consequences so if you keep medication in the vehicle in case of emergencies, be sure to replace it regularly so you know it’s going to be effective should it be needed.
Your electronic gadgets are full of parts that can be adversely affected by heat, so don’t risk leaving your phone or laptop in your car for a long period of time. You’re also risking your valuables being stolen if you’re leaving them visible!
Bags are also very attractive to thieves as they’re likely to contain credit cards, cash, mobile phones and other valuables. Full of high-touch items, they’re also a breeding ground for bacteria which is massively amplified in warm conditions. We don’t tend to worry about catching anything nasty from our own handbag, but it’s a distinct possibility if it’s sat in a warm car!
If you wear glasses solely to drive, it does make sense to keep them in the car, but be careful, as the lenses can act as a magnifying glass and actually cause a fire. Plastic frames can melt and warp in the heat, and if you have metal framed specs, don’t be in a hurry to put them on if they’ve been in the car, they could be hot enough to burn you.
16. Sun cream
It’s common to keep sun cream in the car over the sunnier months, but the ingredients in sun lotions break down in high temperatures and reduce the protection of the product.
17. Wet beach gear
Dump your swimming gear or towels damp from a day at the beach in your car, and you’re creating a breeding ground for infection inducing yeast and bacteria.
18. The kids
As adults we’re very good at regulating our temperatures, and of course this is something we take totally forgranted. However, children can’t adjust to high and low temperatures as easily, and so being in a hot car can be very dangerous. One scary fact is that a child can suffer seizures within ten minutes in a car that is too hot, and be dead within 20 minutes.
Like children, animals also struggle to cope in hot cars. Dogs try to adapt to the heat by panting, but this only goes so far and won’t stop them overheating in higher temperatures.
20. Pet food
Just like human food, pet food will spoil if it gets too hot, so keep this in mind when you’re packing pet food for a journey, or you could end up with a pet with an upset tummy in your car!
So perhaps it’s time to check out the contents of your car?
Why not take a look in your car now and make sure you haven’t got anything lying around in there that could be potentially deadly.
While you’re at it, don’t forget that sunlight can damage your tyres too, so look for any deterioration and check your tread depth, replacing any tyres that require it, to ensure you and your family are safe for the summer.