Warning! 4 Dangers Lurking in a Hot Car

Hennessey Viper at sunset
Hennessey Viper | Source: Hennessey Performance Engineering

For as much fun as the summer is, managing the heat can be tricky. Try as you might to stay cool, when the mercury hits triple digits, even the benefits of parking in the shade won’t do you much good, and lord knows all the good parking spots in the underground garage will already taken.

Fortunately, some people have figured out how to deal with a scorching hot set of seats, and if you commute every day in a place like Phoenix, well-prepared packing is a must if you want to survive the summer. Everything from sun visors and UV blocking window tint to specialized driving gloves and remote start systems can be used in extreme conditions, allowing drivers to fight back in any way possible.

Honda HR-V
Honda HR-V | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Yet even then, mother nature still finds a way to have her way with us, as scalding hot interiors can sometimes even kill people. To many, this may sound preposterous, but according to the NHTSA it’s a real threat — something you’ll soon realize when suddenly your AC is on the fritz and stop-and-go traffic turns a 30-minute commute into a two-hour gridlocked oven broil.

Summertime truly is both a blessing and a curse, and for many drivers something as simple as a hot car can be downright dangerous. Here are four piping hot dangers lurking in your interior that you should try to avoid at all costs, along with a few tips to help you overcome the elements.

1. It’s hotter in there than you think

Kia Sedona in the sun
Kia Sedona | James Derek Sapienza/Autos Cheat Sheet

According to reports by the NHTSA, a car parked in the sun on a cool 60-degree day can reach interior temps well over 100 degrees given enough prolonged exposure. So just because it’s nice out doesn’t mean that the cabin of your car isn’t going to singe your keister when you step inside; on an 80-degree day, the temperature inside your vehicle can reach a dangerously hot level in just 10 minutes.

2. Kids and dogs get hit the hardest

Happy dog leaning out of a hot car in the summer
Happy dog | Source: Thinkstock

Fact: A child’s body’s temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s, and since their body temperature’s increase is relative to their body surface area, not having the ability to produce sweat to cool off becomes a major issue, per the NHTSA. The agency added, “heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children” and can “kill in minutes.” Every year, dozens of kids get forgotten in the back seat, with 31 reported child deaths in 2014 alone resulting from heatstroke.

Sometimes all it takes is a caregiver who isn’t used to hauling kids around or whose routine suddenly changes, and the next thing you know strangers are smashing windows to save lives. Oh, and as for canines, imagine being in the same situation but you are covered in fur and aren’t able to sweat to cool down.

3. Feel the burn

2016 Nissan Titan
2016 Nissan Titan | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Complaining about hot leather seats may sound like whining, but when the dash of your car gets hot enough to bake cookies, you know that your interior is going to hurt. With the proliferation of leather amenities and the usual hardware (metal seat belt buckles, shifter), the chances of you receiving burns of some degree are more prominent than before. We suggest investing in some windshield sun shades, a remote start system that allows the AC to kick on a few minutes in advance, and a good set of cloth driving gloves to prevent the steering wheel and stick shift from wreaking havoc on your palms — or at least a dish towel or something.

4. Hot plastic side effects

2016 Mazda6 GT
2016 Mazda6 GT | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Our final public service announcement comes as a warning regarding the plastics found in all modern automobiles. For years we’ve been warned about the dangers of BPA when found in water bottles and tupperware containers, but as of now there are no certified BPA-free cars on the market, so when that plastic softens up in the sun, guess what your lungs will be absorbing? Do yourself a favor, and let your hot car air out. Then once the AC has had a chance to run for a moment, close everything up and hit the open highway.