This may seem facetious or even a tad crazy, but not apparently not everyone knows it can get really hot in a parked car. Heatstroke is the number one cause of non-crash related vehicle deaths among children, and that's heinous. Here's some common-sense tips to help you avoid the worst.
Summer can be dangerous, and that goes doubly so for days like today which is forecast to be 93 degrees here in New York, after a week-long heat wave. Heat stroke is the result of a body temperature above 105.1 degrees fahrenheit, and symptoms include dry skin, a rapid pulse, and dizziness. A loss of consciousness can come shortly after.
The specter of heat stroke is especially dangerous for small children and pets, as they can't open doors, but amazingly, fully ambulatory adults are sometimes killed because they decide sitting in their toasty car on a nice hot day is a good way to pass the time. This year is already shaping up to be one of the deadliest on record for people dying from hot weather in their cars, so I think it's high time we had a little handy-dandy helpful common sense consumer advice.
TIP #1: DO NOT SIT IN YOUR PARKED CAR
I'm always amazed that I have to explain this, but apparently I do. Your car is a metal box. Metal gets hot. When there is no air passing over it, it gets even hotter. When the windows are up, the oxygen levels can fall dangerously low. These things can all lead to death, which will feel fiery.
Why are you sitting in a parked car in the first place? Don't you have something to do? Go learn a card trick or something. Indoors. Where there's air conditioning. Don't die in your parked car.
Alternative: Stand outside your parked car. While you're standing there, perform card tricks or something to entertain yourself. That way you won't get bored. Everyone wins.
Image credit: Vyacheslav Argenberg
TIP #2: DO NOT LEAVE CHILDREN IN A PARKED CAR
I don't care if they're you're children, or your friends children and you secretly hate them because they left cookie crumbs all over the vulgar shag carpeting you replaced the floor mats with. Don't leave them in the car. Doesn't matter if you're just popping out for a quick Lord of the Rings trilogy viewing marathon. Don't leave them in the car.
Alternative: Leave your kids at home, or with a babysitter, or, better yet, take them with you. Being tediously bored while you watch your parents do grown-up things is part of being a kid. It builds character. Maybe they'll learn a card trick or something.
Image credit: Ed Brambley
TIP #3: DO NOT LEAVE ANIMALS, ESPECIALLY DOGS, IN A PARKED CAR
What are you, a monster? That's just cruel. Fido can't even sweat! He'll just get drool on your vinyl seats any way, and then he will stick to them, and then he will die. Can't take your dog with you wherever you're going? Leave it at home. Why are you bringing your dog to a professional baseball game anyways? They won't let it in the stadium, and I fear you're going to imprint your attachment issues onto the dog. Don't leave animals in your parked car.
Alternative: Take your dog to a park instead, but one that allows dogs. That way you can take it out to a place where there's air. Don't like playing with your dog? Well, first of all why did you get one, but second of all just sit on a bench, outside, while your dog goes and socializes like a normal person. If you get bored yourself try thinking about card tricks, or something.
Image credit: M C Morgan
TIP#4: DO NOT TAKE A NAP IN THE CAR
That's how the aforementioned fully-ambulatory adult died. He parked his car, turned off the engine, and decided to catch some shut eye. Slept right through his own death. Don't do that.
Alternative: Speaking of, you can sleep when you're dead. You should get out there, see the world, and be productive with the time you do have. Learn a trade, a skill, or a card trick or something. Those always impress at parties.
Tip #5: IF YOU ABSOLUTELY INSIST ON STAYING IN THE CAR ON A HOT DAY, THAT'S A WEIRD PASTTIME, BUT WHO AM I TO JUDGE? JUST MAKE SURE THAT WHILE YOU'RE SITTING THERE YOU RUN THE AIR CONDITIONING, OR AT LEAST OPEN THE WINDOWS ALL THE WAY
Keeping the car on with the air conditioning running is a great way to both keep cool and keep oxygenated. The Toyota Prius for all it gets knocked around these parts, actually is available with a solar panel on the roof just so you can do this without harming the environment. Don't want to hurt the environment, but don't have a Prius? Open the windows all the way. Not just partially, as what you think is "open enough" is almost certainly never enough.
Alternative: Just get out of the damn car. Or, better yet, go drive it. The world is full of weird and wonderful roads, and just sitting in your car is one way to never get to experience them.
Image credit: Michael Cory
Got any more helpful consumer advice for not roasting in your car like a chicken? Post your Pro Tips in the comments below!
Top shot credit: Raul Santo de la Camara