It’s fine to keep many things in your car. In fact, our cars can become storage areas for clothes, sports equipment and even snacks.
But some things are likely to cause problems if left in a vehicle. They won’t respond well to extreme temperatures, or may attract thieves who break into vehicles.
What follows are nine examples of things you should not leave behind after parking your car.
1. Prescription medicines
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Medline website, you shouldn’t keep medicines in the glove compartment of your car, where heat, cold and moisture can damage the effectiveness of drugs. Many medicines need to be stored at room temperature, and parked cars rarely remain at that point during summer and winter.
It’s smart to check the guidelines that come with medications to make sure they’re stored at the correct temperatures, Dr. Richard Honaker, chief medical officer of Your Doctors Online, tells Money Talks News.
“If you think your medication has been exposed to extreme temperatures, especially heat, call your pharmacy or health plan for replacements,” he says.
It’s important to use sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
While it’s wise to take along sunscreen when you travel, don’t leave it in a hot car. That’s because the effectiveness of sunscreen products can be diminished by exposure to heat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the shelf life of sunscreen decreases if it has been subjected to high temperatures.
3. Perishable food
During hot summer months, it’s important to think about how you will transport your groceries home from the supermarket.
In hot weather, groceries should not be placed in the trunk of a car, since bacteria can multiply quickly at high temperatures, according to the Food and Drug Administration. It’s safer to put food in the air-conditioned passenger compartment.
Remember to refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, seafood and other perishables within two hours of their purchase. If temperatures outdoors exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, refrigerate within one hour.
4. Aerosol cans
Aerosol cans, such as those containing spray paint, sunblock or deodorant, shouldn’t be kept in your car since they are sensitive to heat. Pressurized cans may expand, possibly causing them to explode.
Road & Travel Magazine reports that most aerosols are meant to be stored at temperatures under 120 degrees Fahrenheit. During summer months, outside air temperatures can rise above 90 degrees in many parts of the country and temperatures inside cars can exceed 130 degrees, creating the possibility of an explosion.
Says Road & Travel:
“Don’t store aerosol cans in places where there is no ventilation or where the temperatures cannot be controlled. You or your child can be seriously injured or killed if riding in close proximity to these materials when they blow.”