In the middle of summer your car or lorry’s interior can heat up to more than thirty degrees hotter than the outside temperature, while the dashboard and steering wheel can be twenty degrees hotter still. Hundreds of children are left in hot cars in the UK every year; occasionally one dies or suffers irreparable brain damage.
While cases of children left in cars on hot days are more prevalent (per head of population) in hotter areas like Australia and the southern states of America, here in the UK there are plenty of days where the interior temperature of a car becomes dangerously hot.
If your car is sitting in the sun and the outside temperature is 24C (75F) then within ten minutes the interior temperature will be 38C (100F) and in just half an hour it’ll be almost 50C (120F). Occasionally we’ll get a day in the low-thirties where within 15 minutes the interior of the car will be 60C (140F) and the dashboard can reach over 80C (176F). If a child is in the car, once their core body temperature reaches 41.5C (107F) enzymes are destroyed in their cells.
Dogs particularly can suffer in a hot car as they can only lose heat by panting, not sweating.
You should always take your children and pets with you when you leave the car or lorry, even if it seems like it’s not particularly warm. As well as the heat dangers, children and pets can accidentally deactivate a handbrake, for example.
Celebrity Australian chef Matt Moran set up a demonstration with a lamb steak to show how hot a car can get. Try getting the smell of slow-cooked lamb out of your upholstery!
Keeping the inside of your car cool
- Leaving your windows down will help a little, but it will still heat up (and it isn’t good for security)
- Park in the shade
- Close the blind for the sunroof but leave the sunroof open a little
- Use shades on the side windows
- Use legal tinted windows
- Use a reflective screen on the windscreen
- Use a solar-powered fan which moves air through the car
- Consider buying a lighter coloured car that reflects the heat more effectively
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.