10 Things to Never Leave in a Hot Arizona Vehicle

A motor vehicle with its windows rolled up generates interior heat like an oven, as most Phoenix metro residents know. The sun's rays come in, the heat doesn't go out. The air temperature inside a vehicle can rise to temperatures of 120 degrees or more even on mildly warm days, and anything exposed to direct sunlight will suffer even more. This is no joke, as you may realize: Stuff gets destroyed — pets and people die.

Here are some reminders of things you should never keep in a hot vehicle: 


A dashboard: This is the one thing on our list you can't control. But the Arizona sun's hell on dashboards. Some folks put protective mats on their dashes — others just ditch the vehicle after a few years, before the dash resembles an ugly mosaic.

Chocolate: Becomes liquid in hot cars and seeps out of wrappers. Extremely tough to clean from cloth seats.


Crayons: Parents beware — do you know what your kids brought into the car? Because in Arizona's heat, what can melt in a vehicle will melt in a vehicle.


A bag of ice: No duh, right? But we can tell you from experience that if you buy several bags of ice for your party, it's possible to lose track of one as you unload the groceries. The ice quickly becomes a pool of hot water, transforming the vehicle's interior into a steam room.


Sushi: Many people find it astonishing that sushi is even served in the Phoenix area when it's 110-plus outside. Even more amazing is the fact that some people will leave sushi in a hot vehicle for a little while, then eat it. Grody!


Vinyl albums, CDs, DVDs: The problem of vinyl albums warping in hot vehicles diminished for a while after they became semi-obsolete due to CDs. Now that vinyl is becoming popular again, so is leaving records in hot places. We've found over the years that CD and DVD cases can be even more vulnerable to warping than the media itself.


Condoms: We understand the convenience factor of keeping condoms in a vehicle at all times for unexpected opportunities. But heed the packaging: Temperatures of more than 100 degrees could lead to deterioration of the latex, which could in turn lead to an STD or unplanned pregnancy. 


Animals: Dogs are at particular risk because they enjoy cars and their owners often take them along for a ride. Cats might be at risk for this problem just because some people enjoy being cruel to cats.


Yourself: Last week, James Rogers and his dog, Leia, died inside a hot Corvette after the doors' electronic locks failed. Rogers didn't have his cell phone and reportedly didn't know about the car's manual door-release lever. 


Babies: A sleeping baby in a back seat is vulnerable to busy CEOs and church-choir members in addition to forgetful pot smokers and drinkers. Outcomes can include a torturous death for the child and arrest, conviction, media attention and social vilification for the culpable adult. Don't ever let this happen to a child.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.