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Tips for keeping cool in hot summer cars

Consumer Reports News: July 12, 2011 01:18 PM

It’s a scorcher around the nation, with temperatures reaching over 80 degrees in much of the country. And the heat index (combining humidity and temperature) is ravaging many southern states with a real-feel of over 100 degrees. Think that’s hot? Try sitting in a sun-baked car! On second thought, don’t.

The glass windows in your vehicle act as an insulator and, depending on the outside temperatures, can contribute to the interior reaching up to 200 degrees in a short period of time.

The most vulnerable to the heat are children and pets. Never leave them in a closed car or even with a window cracked or down—the inside will still heat up and become dangerous and deadly. If you see children or a pet in a car, call 911 immediately.

Here are some things you can do to stay cool and safe on hot summer days:

  1. Park in the shade. Yes, you risk tree pollen or even bird droppings on your car, but it will be much cooler. If there is no shade, then park with the sun beating down into the rear window rather than the front to avoid the steering wheel and front seats from getting hot.
  2. Use a sunshade. These windshield covers keep harmful rays out of your vehicle and while it will still be warm inside they do help keep the temperature down. In addition, sunshades will allow the car to cool faster reducing the time you need to use the air conditioning on high, which can save you some money in gas.
  3. Deploy window shades. Many baby stores sell these window shades that can be put up or down or taken off an on to keep the sun’s rays from beating down on the car seat and when your child is occupying the seat while driving. Some minivans and luxury cars have retractable shades for the second seating row.
  4. Keep leather cool. Leather seats and steering wheels can get so hot they can cause burns. To avoid a hot seat, you can sit on a towel or use a cloth seat cover for the summer months.
  5. Watch the buckles. Metal seat belt buckles can also get extremely hot in the sun. Use caution when buckling and try to avoid children handling the metal part of the buckles. Also, don’t be tempted to loosen car seat straps in the summer heat. Children need to be buckled up securely at all times to remain safe.
  6. Keep hydrated. Bring bottles of water and ice to help you hydrate on these hot days. Having an extra filled water bottle in the car can be a valued addition to an emergency kit, in case of a breakdown or other unforeseen complication.
  7. Don’t leave items in the car. We all know not to keep perishables in the car, but the sun can also affect CDs, DVDs, electronic devices, and toys. Put the items in the trunk or better yet, take them out if you won’t be using them regularly.

Related:
What to do if your car overheats
Heat danger: 500th child dies in a hot car
Summer driving may increase risk of skin cancer

Liza Barth

   

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