10 things not to keep in your car in the summer

You should never leave your dog I the car — ever.

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You should never leave your dog I the car — ever.
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LightField Studios/Shutterstock

  • A car parked in direct sunlight on an 72-degree day can reach an internal 119 degrees in an hour.
  • There are certain things that you should never leave in a car in the summer, like pets, tech devices, and plastic, due to the risk of damage from heat exposure.
  • Here are 10 things you should never leave in your car on a hot summer’s day.

Two things are more likely to happen to your car in the summer than in any other month. First,the summer season sees more car theftsthan any other time of year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And when your car is stolen, so is anything of value that you happened to leave inside it.

Second,researchconducted by Jan Null of San Francisco State University found that a car parked in direct sunlight on a day with an outside temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit can reach an interior temperature as hot as 119 degrees within an hour. So even if your car isn’t stolen this summer, everything inside could end up baking in the heat and getting damaged if you’re not careful.

To avoid ruining your stuff, you can just remove items at risk of heat damage from your car. Which items fall under that category? Quite a few, as it turns out. Here are 10 things you should never leave in your car on a hot day.


1. People and pets

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Your pets’ lives are at risk when you leave them in the car.
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EvgeniiAnd/Shutterstock

Even on a day with cooler temperatures, children and pets in cars are still at risk, as the temperatures inside a parked car can still spike to life-threatening levels, according to a 2005 study by theStanford University School of Medicine. “There are cases of children dying on days as cool as 70 degrees Fahrenheit,” lead author Catherine McLaren, MD, clinical instructor of emergency medicine toldStanford Medicine.

Even if you’re running into a store for a single item or even just to drop off a pre-stamped letter at the post office, if something unexpected comes up and prolongs your task, you just put the living thing left behind at grave risk.


2. Medicine

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Heat can negatively affect your medication.
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Extreme heat can reduce the efficacy of certain medicines, Dr. Sarah Westberg, PharmD, an associate dean at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, toldNPR.

“Pharmaceutical manufacturers recommend most of their products be stored at a controlled room temperature of 68 to 77 degrees,” Dr. Skye McKennon, PharmD, told theNew York Times.

When you get out of your car, you’re better off taking your medications with you than leaving them.


3. Plastic water bottles and food containers

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Chemicals like BPA can get into your water.
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Scott Olson/Getty Images

If you leave plastic food or drink containers in a sweltering car, you could end up ingesting something harmful. Plasticscan leach various potentially dangerous substancesinto their contents, including BPA, which may alter hormonesover time and potentiallyincrease riskfor certain endocrine disorders.


4. Phones, tablets, computers, and other tech

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Heat can permanently damage your device’s battery.
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Tom Pennington/Getty Images

If you read the manual for your phone, tablet, laptop, or other cherished (and likely expensive) electronic device, you may have come across the recommendation to avoid exposing the hardware to high temperatures.

Placing your device in direct sunlight can have damaging consequences to the battery, especially if it has alithium-ion battery. According to Apple, temperatures higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit can irreversibly damage the battery capacity of your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook.


5. Sunscreen

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The effectiveness of sunscreen can be reduced after exposure to high temperatures.
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Mike Mozart/Attribution License/Flickr

If you thought you were being responsible by always keeping sunscreen at the ready in your car during the summer months, unfortunately, you have to think again.

The sunscreen you rely on to protect your skin can be rendered less effective by heat – and there’s no shortage of that in a car during the summer.

“When sunscreen is stored in a high temperature, the effectiveness decreases, and the sunscreen becomes less stable and reliable. When it gets hot or is stored above 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the potency is destroyed, and the sunscreen will degrade,” cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Fredric S. Brandt, MD, toldRefinery29.


6. Booze

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The last thing anyone wants is a skunked beer.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Leaving a six pack of your favorite porter or a nice cabernet in a hot car is a great way to end up with six skunked beers and a ruined bottle of wine.

The sun’s rays break down acids in beer, and the compounds that result bind with sulfur proteins, giving it the dreaded “skunked” taste, as Business Insiderpreviously reported.

For wine, too much exposure to heat can cause reds to take on a “tangy, astringent character,” certified sommelier Laura Burgess wrote forVinePair.


7. Chocolate

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Chocolate has a melting point of 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
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francois schnell/Attribution License/Flickr

If you have ever tried to clean melted chocolate off of clothing, then you know it’s also a good idea to keep the stuff away from upholstery – not to mention the electronic components of your car.

According to Lindt,chocolate has amelting pointof only about 79 degrees Fahrenheit(which is why candy bars melt in your pocket). It can turn into an absolute mess of gooey liquid in a hot car.


8. Crayons

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Crayons can also melt in a hot car.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Just like chocolate, crayons have a relatively low melting point. And like chocolate, they make an absolute mess when they turn into goo. According to Crayola, thesecolorful sticks begin to soften at 105 degreesand will liquefy at temperatures above 120 degrees. So make sure the kids clear out their car entertainment after each drive.


9. Pneumatic tires

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Tires can deflate or, in severe cases, explode.
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Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

If you’re a cyclist, a scooter enthusiast, or have a stroller with pneumatic tires, which are air-filled tires that you use a pump to inflate,don’t leave that gear in the car on hot, sunny days.

According to The New York Times, high heat can cause the air inside the tire to expand, potentially resulting in a blowout. High temperatures can also potentially weaken the rubber, causing a flat tire.


10. Glasses

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The frames of your glasses could melt.
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Flickr/Camera Eye Photography/Attribution license

Keeping a pair of sunglasses in your car is a good practice, right? Well, not if they’re a pricey or prized pair. The heat from the car can distort the frames, damaging the fit and function, and can even warp the lenses.