Summer is almost here, bringing with it longer, sunnier days and ample opportunities for poolside chilling. But the summer sun can also cause cars to overheat — in some parts of the country, residents can literally bake cookies on their dashboards, and, as a new study revealed, hot cars can become dangerous more quickly than we often realize.
The study, published in the journal Temperature on May 23rd, measured cabin temperatures and humidity in cars left outside in Tempe, Arizona. The results were sobering. Researchers found that on a day when the outside temperature was about 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius), the inside of a car parked in full sun reached 116 degrees (47 Celsius) in an hour. Even when the car was parked in shade, there was still a noticeable increase in temperature, with the interior temperature climbing to 100 degrees (38 Celsius).
If children or pets are left in hot cars, the results can be deadly. Even with the windows rolled down or the car parked in the shade, the drastic temperature change in a parked car can still lead to heatstroke in furry friends. And children are susceptible to this danger, too. According to NBC, on average, 37 children die each year after being forgotten in cars.
This latest study isn’t the first time researchers have recorded drastic temperature changes in parked cars. A 2005 study in Pediatrics found that in as little as 20 minutes, the temperature inside a car can skyrocket from 70 degrees to 100 degrees.
It may seem like common sense, but the bottom line is that parked cars get extremely hot in the summer — even when it doesn’t seem that bad outside. And while we’re sure most people would not intentionally leave their pets or children in a car, accidents do happen, and it’s important to be aware of the risks. Be careful out there!